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Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Studies Series 

h Nicole Kwa 

While Hong Kong's spectacular economic 
growth and political development have been 
well documented, the social and cultural 
lives of the ordinary people swept up in the 
changes have not found a significant voice. 
Through the personal experiences of Stanley 
Kwan and those around him, this book gives 
such a voice to people whose lives have been 
profoundly affected by the dramatic changes, 
as Hong Kong transitioned from an entrepot 
to an international financial centre and from a 
colony to become a part of China. 

Wedged between the East and the West — the 
Dragon and the Crown — Stanley Kwan's life 
experiences reflect the forces pulling at Hong 
Kong. He was born into a traditional Chinese 
banking family but attended King's College 
under the British colonial system. Fired up 
by patriotism during the war, he joined the 
Nationalist Chinese army and served as an 
interpreter for American forces in southwest 
China. In 1 949, two of his brothers went to 
the Mainland to join the socialist revolution. 
Although tempted to join, he stayed in Hong 
Kong, worked for a British firm and became a 
"China watcher" at the American Consulate 
General. He finally joined a local Chinese 
bank — Hang Seng Bank where, as head of 
the Research Department, he launched the 
Hang Seng Index and witnessed the dramatic 
cycles of the Hong Kong economy. With the 
prospect of 1997, Stanley Kwan deliberated 
on his future and decided to retire to Canada 
in 1 984, joining the tide of immigrants from 
Hong Kong. 

The book contributes to the ongoing 
search for Hong Kong identity in the Special 
Administrative Region and will resonate 
among people in Hong Kong as well as those 
interested in the fate of the former colony. 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

Multicultural Canada; University of Toronto Libraries 

The Dragon and the Crown 

Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Studies Series 

Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Studies Series is designed to make widely 
available important contributions on the local history, culture and society of Hong 
Kong and the surrounding region. Generous support from the Sir Lindsay and 
Lady May Ride Memorial Fund makes it possible to publish a series of high-quality 
works that will be of lasting appeal and value to all, both scholars and informed 
general readers, who share a deeper interest in and enthusiasm for the area. 

Other titles in RAS Hong Kong Studies Series: 

Reluctant Heroes: Rickshaw Pullers in Hong Kong and Canton 1874-1954 
Fung Chi Ming 

For Gods, Ghosts and Ancestors: The Chinese Tradition of Paper Offerings 
Janet Lee Scott 

Hong Kong Internment 1942-1945: Life in the Japanese Civilian Camp at Stanley 
Geoffrey Charles Emerson 

The Six-Day War of 1899: Hong Kong in the Age of Imperialism 
Patrick H. Hase 

Watching Over Hong Kong: Private Polii ing 1841-1941 
Sheilah E. Hamilton 

The Dragon and the Crown 

Hong Kong Memoirs 

Stanley S.K. Kwan 
with Nicole Kwan 

# m *. ^ i±s m, jpt 

Hong Kong University Press 

Hong Kong University Press 

14/F HingWai Centre 

7 Tin Wan Praya Road 


Hong Kong 

© Hong Kong University Press 2009 

ISBN 978-962-209-955-5 

All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or 

transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, 

recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, 

without permission in writing from the publisher. 

Secure On-line Ordering 

British Library Cataloguing-m-Publication Data 
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. 

Printed and bound by Kings Time Printing Press Ltd., in Hong Kong, China 


Foreword by Robert Nield vii 

Foreword by Diana Lary and Bernard Luk ix 

Preface xi 

Acknowledgements xiii 

Editorial Conventions xv 

Genealogical Tables xvi 

1 Roots 1 

2 Baptism by Fire 29 

3 Hong Kong after the War 65 

4 Hang Seng Bank 101 

5 New China 133 

6 Home and Country 169 
Appendix I: The Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society 189 
Appendix II: The Hang Seng Index 191 
Appendix III: The Teachings of Chairman Ho 193 
Appendix IV: Quotations, Sayings and Slogans in Chinese 195 
Glossary 199 
Sources 205 
Index 211 


It is very gratifying to see that the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Studies 
Series has indeed become a Series since our first volume appeared in 2005. The 
publication of Stanley Kwan's memoirs brings our total to six — and there are 
significantly more than that in various stages of consideration and production. 

Originally writing for his family, friends and relatives, Mr. Kwan was 
happily persuaded to consider reaching a wider audience. A Chinese version 
was produced in 1999 in Canada, and I am delighted to present here a re-written 
and fuller version in English, produced with the collaboration and assistance 
of his niece Nicole Kwan. Mr. Kwan's background and experience have given 
him recollections and observations that are unique and fascinating to anybody 
interested in Hong Kong's social and economic transformation over the past 
seventy years. The journey he records, from patriotism to socialism and to 
capitalism, includes his one-time belief in socialism and Mao Zedong thought, 
and his establishment of the ultimate capitalist measure of Hong Kong — the 
Hang Seng Index. 

The publications in the Studies Series have been made possible initially 
by the very generous donation of seeding capital by the Trustees of the Clague 
Trust Fund, representing the estate of the late Sir Douglas Clague. This donation 
enabled us to establish a trust fund in the name of Sir Lindsay and Lady Ride, 
in memory of our first Vice President. The Society itself added to this fund, as 
have a number of further generous donors. 

The result is that we now have funding to bring to students of Hong Kong's 
history, culture and society a number of books that might otherwise not have 
seen the light of day. Furthermore, we were delighted to be able to establish an 
agreement with Hong Kong University Press which sets out the basis on which 
the Press will partner our efforts. 

Robert Nield 


Royal Asiatic Society, Hong Kong Branch 

July 2008 


Some of the most influential and important people in our world are the quiet, 
thoughtful ones who see the need for a change or an innovation and set about 
bringing it into being. One of these people is Stanley Kwan, the creator of the 
Hang Seng Index, one of the key tools of financial information in Hong Kong, 
not just for Hong Kong, but also for the world. 

Hong Kong has evolved since the end of World War II from a colonial 
port on the China coast into a major centre of the global economy. Social and 
cultural development has gone hand in hand with the economic, but has been 
much less well documented in the scholarly literature or the popular press. 

Many men and women contributed to the making of Hong Kong society. 
Some were rich and famous, or did great deeds that were recorded in print or 
on stone. Most just struggled quietly to survive in difficult conditions. The life 
stories of these men and women give us a deeper, fuller understanding of the 
evolution of Hong Kong. 

Stanley Kwan belongs to both these categories. He has given the world 
some of the most widely recognized and frequently cited indicators of the Hong 
Kong economy; yet with the self-effacing modesty characteristic of the scholar- 
merchant {rushang) that he is, he has led a quiet and simple life. 

His world, part and parcel of the evolving open and pluralistic Hong Kong, 
and so beautifully described in this book, is one in which his involvement with 
banking goes hand in hand with a profound dedication to Chinese culture and 
history. This book is therefore not only a "peoples history" of Hong Kong, but 
also a probing analysis of Hong Kong identity, and what it means to be living in 
a Chinese society. 

As the return to Chinese sovereignty drew near, Stanley Kwan went through 
a process of analysis and questioning about the past and the future, a process 
that eventually led him to emigrate to Canada. His description of his decision- 
making is deeply moving; he articulates, with care and sincerity, the process that 
has so enriched Canada, and connected this country so closely to Hong Kong. 

The Dragon and the Crown 

Scholars as well as general readers who have an interest in Hong Kong 
and modern China owe Stanley Kwan a great debt for sharing his touching and 
thoughtful story, first in the Chinese version which we edited as Volume 2 of the 
Hong Kong Life Stories series published in 1999 by the University of Toronto-York 
University Joint Centre for Asia Pacific Studies, and now in this enriched and re- 
written English version. Reading his memoirs is an enlightening and enjoyable 

Diana Lary Bernard Luk 

Vancouver Toronto 


As a third-generation Hongkonger, my life and family fortune have been 
inexorably tied to the fate of the former British colony during the past century We 
were wedged between the East and the West — the Dragon and the Crown. 

1 was born, in 1925, into a banking family steeped in Chinese culture and 
tradition, but 1 studied at King's College under the British colonial system. I 
served as an army interpreter during the war, liaising between the Nationalist 
Chinese and American forces in southwest China. After the war, I worked for 
a British firm, then the American Consulate General and finally, back to my 
roots, a local Chinese bank — Hang Seng Bank — where, as head of the research 
department, I launched the Hang Seng Index and witnessed the dramatic ups 
and downs of the Hong Kong economy. 

As Chinese in Hong Kong, we benefit from easy access to both China 
and the West, but we are also the passive subjects, and sometimes victims, of 
international agreements. Many of my generation felt deep humiliation at the 
cession of Hong Kong to Britain after the Opium War, but we benefited from 
the stability and prosperity of the colony All of us should have celebrated when 
Britain handed back Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, but many 
greeted the occasion with feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. 

We have all been deeply affected by developments in China and, as a result, 
our lives have taken very different directions. Our patriotic feelings for China 
soared during the Anti-Japanese War, but our reactions to the Communist 
takeover in 1949 were mixed. My two younger brothers and some of my friends 
and relatives went back to China to join the revolution, but others emigrated 
and settled overseas. Still others came to Hong Kong in search of a better life 
and stayed, contributing to the colony's prosperity. I myself stayed in Hong 
Kong until 1984, when I retired and emigrated to Canada. 

1 have tried to look back on my life and explore the contradictions and 
dilemmas that we faced in Hong Kong, as well as the social, economic and 
political forces which shaped our destinies. It is my hope that this can contribute 

xii The Dragon and the Crown 

to the discussion on Hong Kong identity and our understanding of where we 
came from and where we are going. 

This memoir was written primarily from my own memories, observations 
and reflections, and supplemented by our own research and personal interviews. 
The authors are solely responsible for any errors. 

Stanley Kwan 


As I began to make preparations to write my memoirs in English in the new 
millennium, my wife, Wing Kin, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and 1 was 
about to give up this project and devote full time to my new unaccustomed role 
as a caregiver. Fortunately, my niece Nicole offered to help me with the research 
and writing, and her brother Cheuk gave us his full support and encouragement. 

Many people contributed to this book. Man Kwok Lau, my former Kings 
College schoolmate and mentor at Hang Seng Bank, provided valuable insights 
and information for the sections on Hang Seng and the banking industry in Hong 
Kong. John Ho, Fan Meng Siang and Liu Wen Lin, my former army interpreter 
comrades, helped refresh my wartime memories during our many reunion 
luncheons in Toronto. Barbara Yang, my neighbour, read and commented on 
our manuscript. 

My brothers, Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong, shared with us their thoughts 
and experiences, without which my memoirs would be incomplete. Aunt Rose 
and my cousins Kwan Lin Chee, Kwan Sai Kwong and Tang Wai Han provided us 
with details of the history of the Kwan and Tang families which greatly enriched 
this book. Chan Hang Chuen, my sister-in-law, provided me with information 
on her siblings on the Mainland; her daughter, Man Si Wai, first gave me the 
idea to write down my life experiences. 

I am also grateful to: Elizabeth Sinn, who took an interest in my memoirs 
and introduced us to the Royal Asiatic Society; Robert Nield of the Royal Asiatic 
Society and Colin Day at Hong Kong University Press, who supported this 
project; and Diana Lary and Bernard Luk, the editors of the original Chinese 
version of my memoirs in 1999, who encouraged us and wrote the Foreword. 

Last but not least, to my wife, Wing Kin, and my daughters, Yvonne and 
Elaine, who sustained and supported me in my endeavour, I owe them my 
deepest gratitude. 

Stanley Kwan 

xiv The Dragon and the Crown 

We are immensely grateful to Peter Geldart and Judy Maxwell who gave their 
valuable time to help us edit the manuscript. Without their assistance, we would 
not have a finished book. 

I would also like to thank my family and all my friends and relatives who 
supported and encouraged me in this project, in particular: Eileen Cheng who 
inspired me with her keen interest in Hong Kong history and was the first to 
read our draft; my uncle Wong Man Fai who recounted stories of the Wong 
family over our many dim sum breakfasts in Hong Kong; my aunt Wong Wai 
Sum who took me to visit Ching Lin Terrace, the site of our old family mansions; 
and all my teachers and classmates at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre 
at the University of Hong Kong, from whom 1 learned the joy of reporting and 

Nicole Kwan 

Editorial Conventions 

For all places, institutions, publications and well-known persons in Hong Kong 
with Chinese names, we have retained their prevailing (or most commonly 
known) Romanized forms (for example: Wing Lok Street, Tung Wah Hospital, 
Ta Kung Pao, Chung Sze-yuen). 

For all friends and relatives, we have used their Romanized names whenever 
we know them; otherwise, we have taken the liberty to Romanize their Chinese 
names using Cantonese pronunciation. In both cases, we have put their last 
names first under Chinese convention. 

Chinese names and terms unique to Hong Kong are Romanized using 
Cantonese pronunciation; otherwise, they are Romanized using the pinyin 

For all persons, places, publications and institutions on mainland China, we 
have used the pinyin Romanization method, with two exceptions: for persons 
already well-known before 1949, we have retained their most commonly used 
Romanized names (for example: Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek); for certain 
places in the Pearl River Delta, we have Romanized their names using local 
dialects when talking about the pre-1949 period (for example: Kaukong, 

The Chinese characters for less well-known terms, places, personal names, 
literary and artistic works, publications and institutions are listed in the Glossary. 
The Chinese names of relatives are listed under the respective family trees in 
Figures 1-4 of the Genealogical Tables. (Only those mentioned in the text are 

The Chinese characters for the teachings of Chairman Ho quoted in the 
text are provided in Appendix III. The Chinese characters for selected sayings, 
slogans, and literary quotations used in the text are provided in Appendix IV 

The text follows the house style of Hong Kong University Press. 


































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My earliest memories of the family house were the four large characters of 
our household name — Kwan Chung Hao Tong — in sweeping brush strokes. 
Written in gold on a five-foot-long black wood panel, the characters hung high 
in the middle of our family hall. Household names traditionally highlighted 
each family's values and aspirations, and ours were chung and hao — loyalty to 
the emperor and filial piety. Our household was thus the "Kwan Family Hall of 
Loyalty and Filial Piety," and these words haunted me as I was growing up. 

Mindful of our family values, 1 was properly deferential towards my parents 
and family elders and never got into any trouble — but loyalty to the emperor 
was another matter. By the time 1 was born in the British colony of Hong Kong 
in 1925, China had become a republic and no longer had an emperor; instead, 
we were to pledge loyalty to the King of England. The symbols of the British 
monarchy were everywhere: the Royal Crown on the red cylindrical pillar post- 
boxes and the caps of the policemen patrolling the streets; the Royal Coat of 
Arms on government documents and posters; the portrait of King George V in 
school halls and government offices; and "On His Majesty's Service" stamped on 
all government envelopes. 

In reality, however, the British monarchy was far removed from our daily 
lives. Except for the few who attended English-speaking schools, the vast 
majority of the local Chinese could hardly understand or speak any English. We 
interacted with each other daily in areas where the Europeans rarely ventured, 
so it never occurred to me, my family or any of my friends that we owed loyalty 
to the King of England, instead, even though the emperor was gone, we found 
ourselves remaining loyal to five thousand years of Chinese tradition and 

In police stations, aside from the photo of the King, we could just as easily 
find the statue of Guan Yu — a Chinese general from the Three Kingdoms 

The Dragon and the Crown 

period of the third century who was later deified and given the title of Guandi 
(Emperor Guan). With a dark red face and a long black beard, Guandi was 
often depicted carrying a large sword with a long handle in his right hand and 
a book in his left — a symbol of bravery, righteousness and loyalty He was also 
worshipped in many temples, restaurants and shops throughout the colony. 

Many Chinese families could trace their lineages back hundreds of years. 
The earliest record of my ancestors was in 1273, the ninth year of the reign 
of the Southern Song (Sung) Emperor Du Zong, when Kwan Chiu Kong took 
refuge in Kaukong (Jiujiang) or Nine Rivers, a village in the southern province 
of Guangdong. The event was described in surprising detail in our family 
genealogy record — the Shixilu (a record of relations over the generations). 

During the reign of Emperor Du Zong (1264-74), the Southern Song 
dynasty was on its dying breath, and the country was ravaged by wars and 
famine. By 1271, Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, had overrun 
northern China and crowned himself emperor, thus establishing the Yuan 
dynasty. When the Mongolian army swept down the country to destroy what 
was left of the Southern Song dynasty, inhabitants of Anhui, Zhejiang and 
Jiangxi migrated southward to escape its onslaught. It was reported in the 
Shixilu that our ancestor Kwan Chiu Kong joined this refugee tide. Leaving his 
home province of Jiangxi, he wandered south with the refugees, begging for 
food and shelter along the way. 

The long trek took him past the border post of Nanxiong to what is now 
the province of Guangdong. He then travelled down the North River (Bei Jiang) 
on a wooden raft, uncertain of where he was headed, until the raft was finally 
damaged on the rivers lower reaches and he had to wade ashore to look for 
shelter. Our ancestor Chiu Kong eventually settled in Kaukong, a village in 
the middle of the Pearl River Delta where the North River merges with the 
West River (Xi Jiang) and the East River (Dong Jiang) to flow onwards to the 
South China Sea as the Pearl River (Zhu Jiang). Here, where the soil was rich, 
the climate wet and mild, and the crisscrossing waterways teemed with fish, 
our ancestor finally found a place which could support him and the many 
generations of his descendents. 

Within a few years of our ancestor Chiu Kong's journey, Kublai Khans armies 
swept into the Southern Song capital of Hangzhou in Zhejiang province in 1276 
and captured Emperor Du Zongs successor Gong Di. This would have dealt 
a final blow to the long-decaying dynasty, except that Gong Dis two younger 
brothers escaped and fled south with their entourage. The older brother was 
crowned Emperor Duan Zong, but did not live long and was succeeded by his 
younger brother Ping Di in 1278. By then the Mongolian armies were closing 
in so, refusing to surrender, Ping Dis loyal official carried him on his back and 
jumped off a cliff into the South China Sea. 


The tragic fates of the young emperors would have been just another 
footnote in the tomes of Chinese history, except for one unexpected legacy 
While in exile, Duan Zong built a temporary palace on top of a small hill near 
the west bank of what is now Kowloon Bay in Hong Kong. Over the centuries, 
the palace collapsed but a boulder remained on the spot, on which later 
generations engraved and painted three large characters in bold red: Sung Wong 
Toi — the terrace of the Song Emperor. Although the Japanese occupied Hong 
Kong during World War II and levelled the hill to make way for the extension of 
the former Kai Tak Airport, a block of the boulder bearing the three characters 
remained intact. In 1945, the colonial government built a small garden around 
this remaining block, which now rests on a low granite platform framed and 
shaded by trees at the far end of the garden. The three characters are faded but 
remain clear-cut and visible. Near the entrance to the garden stands a pair of 
six-foot-high steles depicting the story of the young emperors in Chinese and 
English. Apartments, grocer} 7 stores and garages now thrive across the street 
and double-decker buses, taxis and minivans careen around the corner, but 
within the stillness of the garden the solid block is imperturbable — a silent 
witness to Hong Kong's distant past and its early ties to imperial China. 

My family would not move to Hong Kong until the turn of the twentieth 
century, by which time China had witnessed the passing of four imperial 
dynasties: Southern Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing (Ch'ing). 

My grandfather Kwan Yik Po, who gave us our household name, belonged to 
the nineteenth generation of our ancestor Chiu Kongs descendants in Kaukong. 
Born in the ninth year of the reign of Emperor Xian Feng of the Qing dynasty 
(1859), Grandfather aspired to join the imperial government, like others of 
means and learning at the time. 

Serving in the imperial government had been the most prestigious and 
sought-after career path in China over the centuries. To qualify, all candidates 
needed to pass numerous stringent examinations. Testing the candidates on a 
vast range of Chinese classical thoughts and writings, these examinations were 
administered at various levels: twice every three years in the county, once every 
three years at the provincial capital, and finally once every three years at the 
imperial capital. Only those who advanced to the highest level successfully were 
admitted to the imperial government service. Tall and robust, with a red face like 
Guandi and famously outgoing, Grandfather was fond of learning from an early 
age and showed talents for writing and literature. Kaukong village elders had 
high hopes of him securing a post in the imperial government and he diligently 
studied the classics for many years, but success in the examinations eluded 

Then, in 1898, Emperor Guang Xu introduced the Hundred Days' Reform 
in an effort to resuscitate a rapidly decaying dynasty. As part of his attempts to 

The Dragon and the Crown 

institute a modern education system and introduce mathematics and science into 
the curriculum, he abolished the traditional examination system. The reforms 
eventually failed, but Grandfather did not sit for any more examinations and, 
instead, devoted himself to teaching in his own village where he acquired quite 
a reputation as a teacher. By the time he passed away at forty-six, in the thirtieth 
year of the reign of Emperor Guang Xu (1905), thousands of years of imperial 
rule over China were slowly but irrevocably grinding to an end. 

My father Kwan Tsai Tung was deeply influenced by Grandfather's 
teachings. He would later update the family Shixilu and describe Grandfathers 
achievements in great detail. The youngest of seven children, of whom only 
four survived to adulthood, Father was slight in build, quiet and scholarly, 
with large, sensitive eyes and a thin, kindly face. True to tradition, he remained 
totally submissive to his elder brother Wai Chow, who took over as patriarch 
of Kwan Chung Hao Tong after Grandfather passed away. Uncle Wai Chow was 
the opposite of Father in physique and personality: tall and well built, with a 
high forehead and stern eyes. He decided to try his hand at business and set the 
family on a totally different path. 

The Yinhao and Our Family Fortunes 

By the turn of the twentieth century, foreign powers had forced China to "open 
up", exacting trade and territorial concessions, and the Qing dynasty was on 
its last breath. The economy, which had long teetered under heavy taxes and 
corruption, came close to ruin with a flood of foreign goods, including opium, 
and the rapid drain of silver from the country. Kaukong, even with its abundant 
fish ponds and rich farm lands, was no exception and many started to leave 
the village to look for better livelihoods elsewhere. While villagers from other 
coastal areas headed primarily for Southeast Asia and North America, many 
Kaukong natives ventured even further and settled in Central and South America 
(including Cuba, where the Havana Chinese cemetery holds the remains of 
many Kwan's from Kaukong). 

Those who preferred not to go too far headed for Hong Kong, within a 
day's journey from Kaukong. Ceded to the British in 1842 after the first Opium 
War, the colony was transformed rapidly from a sleepy fishing village into a 
busy trading port and financial centre, and was thriving by the end of the Qing 
dynasty. Uncle Wai Chow arrived in Hong Kong at the age of thirteen and was 
apprenticed with his maternal uncle's small, traditional bank — Hung Tak 
Yinhao — at 165 Queen's Road Central. 

Kaukong villagers who moved to Hong Kong during this period typically 
made their living operating traditional banks called yinhao (silver shops). 
They were also known as qianzhuang (money dealers) in other parts of 


China, and foreign businessmen generally called them "native banks". Yinhao 
played a major role in the local economy during the colony's first hundred 
years, handling most of the deposits and loans within the Chinese business 
community as well as remittances from overseas Chinese who originated from 
the Pearl River Delta. Many yinhao also actively traded currencies and bullion, 
which led to the founding of the Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society in 

Uncle Wai Chow proved himself a fast understudy at Hung Tak and within 
a few years he was representing the yinhao at the Gold and Silver Exchange. 
He was a talented if somewhat aggressive trader, and rapidly made a name for 
himself. By his early twenties, he had accumulated enough capital and business 
contacts to start his own business. He set up Wing Tak Yinhao and Wing Tai 
Yinhao with capital and support from his Kaukong business network which 
stretched as far as San Francisco, Mexico and Havana. Wing Tak and Wing Tai 
imported silver from Mexico for minting into silver dollars for mainland China, 
and also traded heavily on the Gold and Silver Exchange. 

In 1916, the West River broke its banks and flooded vast areas of the Pearl 
River Delta. Many lives, houses and livestock were destroyed in Kaukong. Uncle 
Wai Chow hired a boat to rescue his mother, his young wife from an arranged 
marriage and his younger siblings, and brought them to Hong Kong. That was 
when Father started his banking career, at the age of eighteen, assisting Uncle 
Wai Chow in his yinhao. 

Most of the yinhao congregated in the narrower streets of the Chinese 
business area of Sheung Wan, between Queens Road and Des Voeux Road, 
just west of the Central District. In contrast to Central, where foreign banks 
and corporations occupied imposing Victorian buildings with tall pillars and 
high ceilings, Chinese businesses in Sheung Wan were housed in three- or four- 
storey traditional southern Chinese tenement houses with narrow staircases and 
balconies. The balconies extended out to provide a covered passageway along 
the shop front — a convenience during the hot summer months and the long 
rainy seasons. The names of the shops were written in bold characters across the 
front of the tenements, and their businesses or products were itemized vertically 
on the pillars supporting the balconies. 

Guarded by tall iron bars at their entrances, the yinhao were surrounded by 
gold retailers, jewellery shops, Chinese herbal stores, Western pharmacies, and 
shops trading in dried seafood and textiles. Tea houses serving dim sum steamed 
in little bamboo baskets would open at six in the morning, so that businessmen 
and shopkeepers could take their breakfast before starting work. Many shops 
would hang out large wooden panels or pennants from the upper floors to 
advertise their names and products, forming a busy and colourful parade of 
signs over the pedestrians and rickshaws passing along the streets below. 

The Dragon and the Crown 

Further to the west of Sheung Wan was Sai Ying Poon which was filled with 
shops selling and distributing dried sea products such as sharks' fins, scallops 
and abalones. To the west of Sai Ying Poon was Shek Tong Tsui where the most 
famous Chinese restaurants and legalized brothels congregated, and where 
much of the real business was conducted in the evenings. Uncle Wai Chow 
would go home for a short rest after closing shop in the evening, put on his best 
dark-blue silk gown, and depart for his nightly visits to Shek Tong Tsui with 
his clients and fellow bankers. The biggest restaurants there occupied three or 
four storeys over an entire block and would all be brightly lit and filled with the 
sweet smell of braised abalone and the aroma of flowing rice wine. Loud voices 
rising from the crowded tables would overpower the high-pitched singing and 
the gentle whining of the erhu, a two-stringed instrument, in the background. 
These festivities would spill over to the brothels in the surrounding buildings, 
many of the better known of which would occupy several storeys. On the upper 
floors, rolls of wooden shuttered doors would open out onto narrow verandas 
lined with intricate cast iron rails and decorated with pots of ferns and tropical 
house plants. Light, music and voices would continue to flow from the rooms 
all night long. 

To consolidate his business network beyond his nightly contacts, Uncle Wai 
Chow needed to form more permanent alliances within the banking circle. The 
same year that my uncle rescued his family from the floods of the West River, 
another Kaukong banker, Tang Chi Ngong, gave generous sums of money to 
the village to help its reconstruction, in recognition of which the village leaders 
named a newly rebuilt bridge after him. 

Tang Chi Ngong was lightly built with taut features and clear sharp eyes. 
A thick moustache drooping over his broad, lightly clinched lips gave him an 
air of shrewdness and confidence. Much older than Uncle Wai Chow, Tang 
Chi Ngong had come to Hong Kong in the early 1870s at the age of twelve. 
At first he helped his uncle in his currency exchange stall on Queen's Road 
and then, after his uncle passed away, he worked as an apprentice at Hung Yu 
Yinhao where he quickly rose through the ranks. When Hung Yu closed for 
business and distributed its capital, Tang Chi Ngong was given a handsome sum 
of silver dollars which he used to set up Tang Tin Fuk Yinhao, where he was 
sole proprietor. Tin Fuk was located at 171 Queen's Road Central at the end of 
a string of yinhao: Shui Kut, Tai Yau, Hung Tak, and later Wing Tak and Wing 
Tai. Hung Tak was where Uncle Wai Chow was initially apprenticed, and the 
two became acquainted with each other first as neighbours and later as business 

Unlike Uncle Wai Chow's yinhao, Wing Tak and Wing Tai, which mainly 
traded currencies, gold and silver, Tin Fuk specialized in making loans against 
property mortgages. Its business was less risky and grew briskly as more people 


settled in Hong Kong and property became increasingly in demand. Whenever 
borrowers were unable to service their debts, Tin Fuk would take over the 
property and rent it out. With a steady flow of rental income, its basement vault 
was always full of silver dollars. As Uncle Wai Chow needed funding from Tin 
Fuk to take on increasingly large stakes in trading currency and bullion, it was 
to his advantage to consolidate the relationship between the three yinhao. Since 
there could be no more effective way to seal the bond than through marriage, my 
father was introduced to the quiet, serious-looking and diminutive seventeen- 
year-old girl with large dark brown eyes who would become my mother. 

Mother, Shiu King, was the thirteenth child of Tang Chi Ngong, by his 
second and favourite concubine. For unknown reasons which haunted the 
family, all her older brothers except for the twelfth had died before they turned 
eighteen, and all her older sisters who lived long enough to be married died 
within a hundred days of their marriages. Mothers marriage to Father was 
therefore an occasion for both celebration and apprehension. 

My maternal grandmother Lee Tuan Yau, whom we called Poh Poh, was a 
sharp-looking woman with handsome features and quick movements despite 
the inconvenience of her tiny bound feet. Poh Poh was the fifth daughter of 
a Qing dynasty official and the only one of Tang Chi Ngong's wife and four 
concubines who was educated. Grandfather Chi Ngong, whom we called Gung 
Gung, took Poh Poh with the intention that she would manage his household and 
attend any social function if needed. Poh Poh therefore wielded great authority 
within the Tang household. Since Mother was her first daughter to be married, 
and aware of the sad history of previous marriages in the family, Poh Poh was 
determined to spare no expense in making the marriage a success. 

Mother married into the Kwan household on the tenth day of the tenth 
lunar month of 1917. Carried to her new home in a sedan covered by bright 
red silk with delicate multicoloured embroideries, she brought as her dowry 
thick round gold bracelets carved with phoenixes and dragons symbolizing 
marriage, jade earrings and pendants of the deepest shades of translucent green, 
two young housemaids from the Tang family, and a full set of elaborately carved 
blackwood furniture. One of the most prized of Mother's dowries, however, 
was a Western-style desk clock. Finely inscribed in black along the lower rim 
of the clock face were the words: "Manufactured by Ansonia Clock Company, 
New York, United States of America". Its intricate mechanism was housed in a 
foot-high rectangular glass case with a gilded metal frame, the four legs were 
shaped like animal faces, and on top was a gold beacon standing erect in a sea of 
glistening waves and floral patterns. 1 used to be mesmerized by the clock: the 
delicate metal hands ticking along the black roman numerals on the face, the 
gold and glass pendant swinging with the clockwork, the melodic chimes on the 
hour, and the sunlight sparkling through the glass and glittering off the golden 

The Dragon and the Crown 

frame. The clock was all that remained of Mother's dowry after the war and has 
stayed in the possession of our family to this day. 

Perhaps because of Poh Poh's unswerving determination to make the 
marriage a success, the hundred-day curse was finally lifted; Mother lived to be 
eighty-four and bore six sons, of whom four lived to adulthood. Her life in the 
Kwan household, however, did not turn out to be an easy one. My parents' first 
child, a son named Iu Kwong, died in infancy and, despite the rich dowry that 
Mother brought, Father was a man of moderate means. Dependent on Uncle Wai 
Chow for his livelihood and forced to work under his shadow, Father worked 
obediently and diligently but received only a modest salary 

My second brother Man Kwong and I, the third child, were born in an 
old tenement house on Wing Kut Street, close to the area where the yinhao 
congregated. The street was a narrow lane running between Queen's Road and 
Des Voeux Road and not accessible to motor vehicles. Hardware stores, grocery 
shops, barber shops and small restaurants occupied the ground floors of the 
tenement houses, with middle- and lower-income families living on the upper 
floors. A year after I was born, however, we were able to move up in our housing 

Reaping the profits of his hugely successful business, Uncle Wai Chow 
bought two houses on Ching Lin Terrace, an affluent neighbourhood on the mid- 
levels of Kennedy Town in Western District. Although adjacent to Shek Tong 
Tsui, Western District was then a quiet area with few commercial activities other 
than some grocery stores and rows of warehouses (called "godowns") along the 
harbour front. Uncle Wai Chow liked this largely residential neighbourhood and 
completely renovated two houses, combining them into a big mansion equipped 
with flushing toilets and gas for cooking and heating, all of which were rare 
luxuries at the time. He moved into the mansion with Grandmother and his 
rapidly expanding household, which now consisted of his wife, two concubines 
and eight children. He felt magnanimous enough to accommodate our family in 
one of the suites and my fourth brother, Tse Kwong, fifth brother, Ching Kwong 
(who died in infancy), and sixth brother, Yuan Kwong, were born there. 

Ching Lin Terrace was the centre of my childhood. Midway up the hill 
on the western end of the island, the terrace commanded a panoramic view 
of Victoria Harbour and its ships of all descriptions: squat Chinese junks with 
large brown sails, white steam ships puffing smoke from their long funnels, and 
small tug boats and sampans that darted back and forth to service the ships and 
ferry the passengers. Ching Lin Terrace was the third highest among the five 
parallel residential terraces that were cut into the side of the hill and reinforced 
with blocks of granite. Mount Davis towered over us at the western end, and 
on the summit a British army fortress housed the big guns intended for Hong 
Kong's coastal defence. 


Uncle Wai Chow's mansion occupied numbers 10 and 11 in a row of 
fourteen three-storey houses, one of a number of stately houses renovated or 
re-built with solid masonry on a granite base with large glass windows and 
wide balconies. The outer walls of the mansion were constructed with "green 
bricks" — high quality greyish bricks with a deep green hue. The long yard in 
front of the houses was wide and shaded by a row of leafy candlenut trees, and 
on summer evenings the elderly would sit outside on wooden stools to chat and 
fan away the warm humid air. 

On the ground floor of our mansion was a large family hall which opened 
onto a wide backyard. The black wood panel bearing our household name Kwan 
Chung Hao Tong hung on top of a dark brown, intricately carved wooden arch 
which soared from wall to wall and divided the hall in two. In the front was a 
Western-style living room with a teakwood floor and wall panels, and a set of 
heavy sofas upholstered in bright floral patterns. In the rear was a Chinese- 
style living room with a set of elaborately carved blackwood furniture with 
round black and white marble panels in the backs of the chairs. At one end of 
the room, a large mirror hung against the wall over a long, narrow blackwood 
altar table. On the table were two-foot-high porcelain statues of three legendary' 
elders in traditional Chinese robes, representing fortune, wealth and longevity 
— Fu, Lu, Shou. In the backyard of the mansion was a goldfish pond surrounded 
by neatly trimmed shrubs and flowers in ceramic pots. 

There were five residential suites: one on the ground floor beside the family 
hall and two on each of the upper floors. Grandmother occupied one of the 
suites on the second floor, and Uncle Wai Chow and his wife (whom we call 
First Aunt) the other. Our family lived in one of the third floor suites, and two 
of Uncle Wai Chow's five concubines (whom we called Third Aunt and Sixth 
Aunt in accordance with the sequence in which they were brought into the 
family) lived in the other suites with their respective children. (Uncle's other 
concubines had either died or left the family by the time we moved to Ching Lin 

Grandmother Leung Kuk Kum was small-framed and plain but kindly. Like 
Poh Poh, she had bound feet no more than four inches long, as was the custom 
among women of well-to-do families during the Qing dynasty. She used to wear 
miniature shoes made of black silk cloth delicately embroidered with brightly 
coloured floral patterns. Because she swayed while she walked and could manage 
only relatively short distances, whenever she went out Uncle Wai Chow would 
order a sedan chair carried on the shoulders of two footmen to take her from 
the terrace down the slope and back up again. Born in Hong Kong under British 
rule, Mother was not as constricted by tradition as many of the girls in similarly 
well-to-do families in mainland China. By the time she turned eleven, the 1911 
National Revolution led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen had toppled the Qing dynasty. To 

10 The Dragon and the Crown 

usher in a new era of freedom and progress, the new republican government 
ordered all men to cut their queues and the end of the practice of binding girls' 

Although she escaped the fate of having her feet bound, Mother continued 
to be fettered by the traditional obligations of a wife and daughter-in-law 
which, since she came from a well-respected family, she was expected to follow 
diligently. The foremost among her duties was to obey Fathers wishes. Father, 
for his part, took to heart our family value of filial piety which, after Grandfather 
Yik Po passed away, he lavished on Grandmother. Mother therefore had to work 
extra hard in her role as daughter-in-law. She would prepare tea and serve it to 
Grandmother on the first and fifteenth days of the lunar month while wishing 
her good health and long life, a ritual that was particularly important on 
Grandmothers birthday One of my earliest memories was of Mother kneeling 
and serving tea to Grandmother. 

Another of Mother's duties was to keep the family shrine in immaculate 
condition. Uncle Wai Chow had given Grandmother a three-bedroom suite 
and one of the rooms was used for ancestor worship. Against the main wall 
of the room was a large, deep blackwood altar table supporting a two-foot- 
high red tablet housed in a blackwood frame. Written in gold on the tablet 
were the words: "The Shrine of the Successive Generations of Ancestors of the 
Kwan Family". This room was Grandmother's domain, where she would say 
her morning and evening prayers to Guanyin (the Goddess of Mercy) and the 
Kwan ancestors and seek their blessings. She would also supervise ancestor 
worship rituals for key days of the lunar calendar: New Year, the Qing Ming and 
Chong Yang festivals (which both commemorated the deceased). Grandfather's 
birthday, and the anniversary of his death. 

On such occasions, the rituals would be highly elaborate and the offerings 
on the altar table would be three rows deep. Directly in front of the ancestral 
shrine stood a large rectangular bronze incense burner, flanked on both sides by 
pairs of bronze joss stick stands and candle stands. Along the second row large 
porcelain plates held the main dishes — a whole cooked chicken and a chunk of 
roasted pork or a whole suckling pig — surrounded by side dishes such as fried 
fish, steamed buns, vegetables and fresh fruits. The outer row contained three 
pairs of red lacquered chopsticks, three red porcelain bowls piled with rice, and 
three small red porcelain cups filled to the brim with rice wine. 

Before the ceremony began. Mother and other female members ot the 
household would light up pieces of camphor wood piled up on a heap of 
incense dust inside the burner, as well as the joss sticks and red candles in their 
stands. Then, led by Uncle Wai Chow, each family member in order ol seniority 
would perform the act of kowtow in front ol the ancestral shrine by kneeling 
down and touching his or her forehead to the ground three times. The entire act 

Roofs J I 

would be performed three times consecutively — in total kneeling three times 
and touching the head to the ground nine times (san gui jiu kou). When the 
ceremony was over, the food offerings would be served on the dinner table; for 
us children, this was the best part of the entire ceremony 

After Grandmother died, Mother kept the rituals alive for our own family, 
with simpler food offerings, but instead of performing kowtow we reduced the 
ritual to just standing and bowing three times, much to my relief. Having gone 
to school and learned about Western ideas and practices, I was no longer willing 
to submit to the ritual of kowtow as I felt offended or humiliated whenever I 
heard that the Chinese were a "kneeling" nation. 

As well as the solemn rituals and often strict rules of behaviour within Uncle 
Wai Chows household, there were also lighter moments. After Uncle Wai Chow 
and Father left for work in the mornings, Mother would keep Grandmother 
entertained by playing mahjong with her and would often invite First, Third and 
Sixth Aunts to make up four players. Although First Aunt would usually oblige, 
Third and Sixth Aunts would often find excuses not to participate, which was 
perhaps understandable since the games were usually slow and boring given 
Grandmother's poor eyesight and faltering memory. Mother would then enlist 
the help of our neighbours, especially her good friend Mrs. Wong Hing Kwong 
who lived in unit number 8 and would often come to join the game. From 
a wealthy Cantonese family which made its fortune in Shanghai, Mrs. Wong 
was graceful and considerate, and would often strategically slip a few tiles on 
the table to let Grandmother win the game. Sometimes Lin Chee, Uncle Wai 
Chow's eldest daughter, and Wai Sheung, Mrs. Wong's eldest daughter, would 
also join to help make up a foursome at the mahjong table. The children of both 
families quickly became friends, and Mrs. Wong later became an in-law when 
her daughter Amy married my second brother, Man Kwong. 

Although Grandmother got on relatively peacefully with her many 
daughters-in-law all under one roof, all was not well among Uncle Wai Chow's 
wife and concubines. First Aunt was his wife through an arranged marriage 
in Kaukong, but after he moved to Hong Kong and made his fortune, Uncle 
acquired five concubines in rapid succession. The first was a housemaid and 
the others he met in Shek Tong Tsui. However, three of the concubines had left 
him before we moved to Ching Lin Terrace and only Third and Sixth Aunts 
stayed with us. Uncle Wai Chow had fourteen children in all, although only 
eight survived to adulthood. First Aunt did not have any children, and this 
gave Uncle Wai Chow all the excuses he needed to have concubines. Plain and 
uneducated but strong willed and unyielding. First Aunt put up a good fight 
and resisted to accept Uncle's concubines into the household for some time, but 
when they started bearing his children her defences broke down. Gradually, her 
influence in the household waned and she eventually retreated to a nunnery 

12 The Dragon and the Crown 

in Sha Tin where she stayed until she passed away, surviving Uncle Wai Chow 
by a few years. Third Aunt, who was soft-spoken, delicate and fair, played the 
yangqin, a stringed percussion instrument, and sang to the accompaniment of 
her father on the erhu in Shek Tong Tsui, where she met Uncle Wai Chow 
She respected First Aunt but held her place in the household since she had a 
daughter and a son. Sixth Aunt, who was tall, sharp and assertive, bore four 
sons and two daughters and fiercely expanded her sphere of influence within 
the household and even into Uncle Wai Chow's business. 

As children, we were only vaguely aware of the intrigues of our extended 
family and mixed easily with our cousins as well as with other children living 
on the terrace. For us, the long yard in front of our house was our playground, 
a battlefield and the centre of our after-school activities. 

We especially loved to play soccer in the wide open space at the end of the 
terrace in front of the Temple of Lu Ban — the god of carpenters and masons. 
On top of the temple's grey tiled roofs were two turquoise dragons twirling 
in the clouds and chasing a large green pearl. Beneath the dragons, a row of 
figurines depicted the life and work of the Master. Inside the temple, Lu Ban's 
bearded figure wearing a golden belt and a green robe sat solemnly on a high 
wooden pedestal at the far end, contemplating the offerings of incense, fruits 
and flowers before him. I used to linger in the cool shade inside the temple, 
watching the tall pillars rise to meet the dark wood ceiling, reading the black 
and gold characters on the large wooden panels on the walls, and feeling drowsy 
as I watched the thin ribbons of smoke from the incense dance and swirl gently 
and effortlessly to the ceiling. 

Uncle Wai Chow's yinhao, Wing Tak and Wing Tai, thrived during the early 
1920s, reaping significant profits from his active trading in gold, silver and 
foreign currencies. However, the markets suffered a major setback in 1925, the 
year 1 was born. Spearheaded by communist labour leaders and supported by 
the Guangzhou (Canton) government, the Canton-Hong Kong General Strike 
began that year and brought business activities in Hong Kong to a standstill. 
The strike was initially launched in response to a nationwide movement to 
protest against the killing of demonstrators in Shanghai on 30 May. However, 
on 23 June, five days after the strike began in Hong Kong, British soldiers in 
Guangzhou shot at demonstrating workers, killing 52 and wounding 1 1 7 in what 
was known as the Shakee Massacre. This brought nationalistic and anti-British 
sentiments to a new height. In protest, some 250,000 workers left Hong Kong 
for Guangzhou with their families. The strike lasted sixteen months as unions 
boycotted all British goods and any ship using Hong Kong, and demanded better 
working conditions and greater rights. Alarmed by this explosive situation and 
questioning Hong Kong's future viability, many wealthy businessmen fled the 
colony with their capital. Those who stayed took out their savings in cash in 

Roots 13 

case they had to flee, and this led to widespread bank runs and a sharp drop in 
the prices of property and stocks. Many smaller and under-capitalized yinhao 
became illiquid and eventually closed down. 

Fortunately, Wing Tak and Wing Tai survived and expanded as weaker 
players went bankrupt and left the market. Uncle Wai Chow became even more 
active and consolidated his reputation as one of the most aggressive traders of 
his time. But his penchant for speculation eventually led to his downfall when, 
during the Great Depression of 1929, the American economy took a nose dive 
and brought down financial markets worldwide. With large exposures to the 
markets, Wing Tak and Wing Tai had to close their doors; Uncle Wai Chow 
went bankrupt and Father became unemployed. 

For a time, life went on as usual. I was too young to realize the full extent 
of our misfortunes, although I did notice that the adults were looking more 
sober and seemed to have a lot on their minds. It was not until 1 started going 
to school that I began to feel the degradation of my family's material life, and 
the shame and agony of my parents. Uncle Wai Chow, however, was undaunted 
by this setback and continued to search for opportunities to make a comeback. 
Then Mothers family extended us a helping hand, and the strategic alliance 
Uncle had made earlier proved its real worth. 

The Tang Family to the Rescue 

Unlike Uncle Wai Chow who traded heavily in gold and foreign exchange, 
Gung Gung Tang Chi Ngong had remained cautious and seldom strayed from 
real estate lending. When his clients failed to pay their debts he would take 
over their properties and hold them as long-term investments, and as there 
were many bankruptcies during the General Strike and the Great Depression he 
steadily accumulated his wealth. At one point, Tin Fuk owned over forty shops 
for rent in the Sheung Wan area, and dozens of residential and commercial 
properties in Shek Tong Tsui and Happy Valley. While the traditional values of 
the Kwan family were loyalty and filial piety, those of the Tang family were Dor 
Fuk or "many fortunes", from the auspicious saying: "Many fortunes, long life 
and many male descendants." Gung Gungs household name was thus Tang Dor 
Fuk Tong — the "Tang Family Hall of Many Fortunes". 

By the time he passed away in 1932, Gung Gung had indeed amassed an 
enormous fortune. But he had always been keen about sharing some of his 
wealth with those in need and enjoyed the public recognition this brought. In 
1905, capping a series of substantial donations, he served as chairman of the 
board of Tung Wah Hospital, which was then the most influential charitable and 
community organization among the local Chinese. In 1916, after the flooding 
of the West River, he donated money for rebuilding Kaukong (with a bridge 

14 The Dragon and the Crown 

named after him), and later funded the building of Nanhai Secondary School 
and Kaukong Secondary School in his native town. He reached the apex of his 
public career on 28 September 1931, when Hong Kong governor William Peel 
officially opened the Tang Chi Ngong School of Chinese at the University of 
Hong Kong. Gung Gung had donated sixty thousand dollars for the building of 
the school in response to requests by the previous governor, Cecil Clementi, and 
leaders of the Chinese community Much to Gung Gungs delight, Governor Peel 
commended him highly on his contributions to the development of Chinese 
culture in the colony and, in recognition, gave him special permission to hold a 
huge celebration for his seventieth birthday. 

Gung Gung lived with his large family in a majestic mansion at 35-39 
Gough Street, slightly up the hill from the financial district of Sheung Wan. He 
had nineteen children from his wife and four concubines, but by the time I was 
born, only six — four sons and two daughters — survived. His wife had passed 
away early, but three of his concubines and all of his surviving children, except 
for Mother after she married, lived in the mansion with their families. After 
Gung Gungs death, his surviving concubines and some of his children and their 
families continued to live there until it was sold in 1955. 

Gung Gungs mansion, constructed with fine "green bricks", was three 
storeys high and divided into three sections: the main, east and west wings. Large 
rectangular windows with eaves covered by lush green tiles were interspersed 
with smaller octagonal multicoloured stained glass windows. The entrance of 
the main wing was on the northern side of the street, facing south in good 
Chinese architectural tradition, with a thick granite door frame twelve feet high 
and ten feet wide. Guarding the entrance was a wooden gate made of heavy logs 
about five inches in diameter attached horizontally to a large wooden frame that 
could slide back and forth across the doorway. The logs were about six inches 
apart, narrow enough to prevent people from getting through. At the top of the 
granite frame were the characters of the household name — Tang Dor Fuk Tong 
— and immediately behind the main gate were two large wooden doors. The 
entrances to the east and west wings had wooden doors instead of a sliding gate 
and could be reached through two private lanes on either side of the building. 
Unusually long and deep, the mansion had three levels of basement and was 
reportedly a government building before Gung Gung purchased it for his own 

The main foyer was separated from the main hall by a large rosewood screen 
elaborately carved with flowers, trees and birds, and inlaid with ivory and semi- 
precious stones. Visitors would enter or exit the main hall from either side of 
the screen. In the main hall, where Gung Gung received and entertained guests 
and held many of his banquets, four large mirrors hung on the walls, two on 
each side. The floor was covered by large smooth grey tiles. Adjacent to the hall 

Roots 15 

was a courtyard with granite slabs which opened up to an atrium in the centre of 
the mansion, covered by a large glass skylight window Across the courtyard was 
the rear portion of the main wing which housed Gung Gungs first concubine, a 
large kitchen serving the family and guests and, most important, the ancestral 
hall which held the shrines of Tang family ancestors. 

Mother would always bring us to the ancestral hall to bow and pay our 
respects whenever she went home for visits, which became more frequent as 
Father's financial condition deteriorated. In the main wall of the ancestral hall 
was a large rectangular wooden niche the size of a big wardrobe which housed 
many red wooden tablets with gold characters. Names of recent ancestors were 
individually inscribed on foot-high tablets, and for more distant ancestors 
there was one large tablet bearing the inscription: "The Shrine of Successive 
Generations of Tang Family Ancestors". 

On the other two sides of the courtyard were the foyers of the east and west 
wings, with stairs leading to the upper floors. Gung Gang's suite was located on 
the second floor of the main wing and consisted of a bedroom, a study and a big 
living/dining room. His fourth concubine lived in a suite directly above his, and 
his second concubine — our Poh Poh — lived on the ground floor of the east 
wing with my Seventeenth Aunt Rose (Shiu Chun), occupying three bedrooms 
and a living/dining room. On the upper floors were the suites of Eighteenth 
Uncle Chi Kin (Shiu Kwan) and his family and Nineteenth Uncle Shiu Woon 
and his family Twelfth Uncle Po Chun (Shiu Kee) and his family lived on the 
ground floor of the west wing. On the upper floors were Fourteenth Uncle Shiu 
Kin and his family, and his birth mother — Gung Gungs third concubine. Each 
family suite had its own kitchen and bathroom and was equipped with gas for 
cooking and heating. 

The Tang family had over twenty housemaids, some of whom came to the 
family as young girls and ended up spending the rest of their lives there. There 
were also a chef, a watchman, and a rickshaw driver who took Gung Gung to 
and from his office at Tang Tin Fuk Yinhao. Gung Gung hired a chauffeur in the 
late 1920s when he purchased his first automobile — a black four-door sedan 
— and soon the rickshaw was discarded. The rickshaw driver lost his job, but 
Gung Gung gave him a handsome sum for his retirement. 

Despite his sharp business acumen, Gung Gung was warm and loving 
towards his grandchildren. My earliest memories of him were on the second 
day of Chinese New Year when by tradition we would go with Mother to pay our 
respects to him in the main hall of the mansion. Seated on an embroidered silk 
cushion in a spacious blackwood armchair, Gung Gung would beam and open 
his arms to greet us. As soon as we stepped across the threshold to the hall, my 
brothers and I would rush towards him and bow, wishing him prosperity and 
good health. He would gather us in his arms and give each of us a hug and a 

16 The Dragon and the Crown 

kiss on the cheek, his prickly moustache rubbing against our faces. And he was 
always generous with his lai see — a small red packet containing money for 
good luck. Gung Gung's lai see was always soft and would usually yield a ten 
dollar banknote, which was equivalent to three months' pay for a housemaid at 
that time. 

Gung Gung doted on his four sons, who each had an entourage of servants 
when they were growing up and were given a free reign to spend as much 
money as they wanted and in whatever manner they pleased. They ended up 
pursuing widely different careers. Twelfth Uncle Po Chun, the scholar of the 
family, graduated from Queen's College, an elite English secondary school in 
Hong Kong, and Lingnan University in Guangzhou. He completed his graduate 
studies at Columbia University in New York, a rare achievement for well-to-do 
gentlemen of his time. Unfortunately Twelfth Uncle chose not to join the family 
banking business after he returned to Hong Kong, causing Gung Gung much 
disappointment. He suffered from diabetes and died at the relatively young age 
of fifty Eighteenth Uncle Chi Kin and Nineteenth Uncle Shiu Woon also stayed 
away from the family business and both led high-flying lifestyles. In their youth 
they were among the few Chinese in Hong Kong to own automobiles — flashy 
two-door coupe convertibles — but neither was able to build up his own fortune. 
Eighteenth Uncle tried his hand at a variety of businesses, including trading and 
restaurants, but none of them turned out to be successful. Nineteenth Uncle 
indulged in horse racing, became quite a well-known jockey in Hong Kong and 
even went to Inner Mongolia to buy horses. He lived in Shanghai for a period 
before the Japanese occupation raising horses and dogs, and mingling with the 
rich and famous. 

Gung Gung eventually looked to Fourteenth Uncle Shiu Kin to continue the 
family business. Uncle Shiu Kin attended St. Stephens College in Hong Kong, a 
private English secondary' school primarily for children of well-to-do families. 
Although his grades were mediocre he was diligent and obedient and, at Gung 
Gung's request, he left school to join Tang Tin Fuk Yinhao where he worked his 
way up from the ranks until he was able to manage the business upon Gung 
Gung's retirement. Uncle Shiu Kin thus became the guardian of Gung Gung's 
fortunes and even surpassed him in philanthropic achievements. In 1928, at the 
age of twenty-seven he became the youngest chairman on record on the board 
of Tung Wah Hospital, where he oversaw the expansion of the hospital group, 
and five years later he became chairman of Po Leung Kuk, which was then w ell- 
known for harbouring abducted girls and orphans. In the same year, he set up 
the Kowloon Motorbus Co. (1933) Ltd. with several partners and later became 
its chairman and managing director. Always wearing his trademark Chinese long 
gown, Uncle Shiu Kin mingled easily among the rich and famous within both 
Western and local Chinese communities. In recognition of his contributions. 

Roots 17 

he was appointed Justice of the Peace in 1929, awarded the MBE (Member of 
the British Empire) in 1934, and received various awards and decorations from 
the British and colonial governments during successive years. In 1964, he was 
knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. To this day, hospitals and schools bearing his 
own or Gung Gungs name testify to his extensive contributions to charity. Both 
the Tang Shiu Kin Hospital and Tang Chi Ngong Specialist Clinic in Wanchai 
continued to be well known and used by the Hong Kong public. His grandson, 
David Tang, who founded the China Club and Shanghai Tang, later became a 
successful businessman and celebrity in Hong Kong in his own right. 

When Gung Gung passed away, his estate was primarily divided among 
his four sons, but a portion went to Poh Poh, his favourite concubine and the 
mother of five of his surviving children. It was Poh Poh who saved our family 
from an early ruin, even though her own health was failing from a serious injury 
she suffered at the race course. 

On 26 February 1918, Poh Poh led a party of thirteen to the horse races in 
Happy Valley. They included her own children Aunt Rose, Eighteenth Uncle 
Chi Kin and Nineteenth Uncle Shiu Woon, and Sixteenth Uncle Shiu Tong, 
son of Gung Gung's third concubine. A fire broke out from the cooking on the 
ground and quickly spread to the bamboo-built spectators' stand above. The 
crowd panicked and broke into a huge stampede. Fortunately, Eighteenth Uncle 
and Nineteenth Uncle were watching the race at the front and did not get caught 
as the stand collapsed. Sixteenth Uncle, however, was trapped in the confusion 
and died in the fire. Poh Poh was pinned down by a fallen beam but managed 
to survive; her maid later found her and stayed at her side until the ambulance 
arrived. Aunt Rose, who was then only thirteen, miraculously escaped unhurt 
and walked all the way home crying for help. Some six hundred people lost 
their lives in the fire — the highest number of fire casualties in the history of 
Hong Kong. 

Suffering from poor health since the tragedy, Poh Poh became a devout 
Buddhist and would retreat each summer to her villa in Tai Po in the New 
Territories where she often invited nuns from a nearby abbey to chant with her 
and share her vegetarian dishes. When Father's health failed after the bankruptcy 
of Wing Tak and Wing Tai, she asked him to stay in the villa until he recovered. 
Worried about Father's misfortunes and Mother's difficulties in making ends 
meet, Poh Poh eventually gave Father fifty thousand dollars to start his own 

Uncle Wai Chow was elated by this turn in fortune and was soon back in 
business. He quickly obtained additional capital, again from Kaukong natives 
overseas, and arranged for Father to set up another bank — Shiu Yuan Yinhao 
— in 1931. Father was nominally the bank's manager and licence holder but 
Uncle (who claimed greater savvy and experience) ran the show. Later, they also 

18 The Dragon and the Crown 

set up an affiliate — Seng Yuan Company — and registered it with the Chinese 
Gold and Silver Exchange Society to trade gold bullion. 

To regain his losses, Uncle took increasingly larger positions on the market, 
but his luck did not improve and later he became entangled in lawsuits. To 
finance his legal costs, Uncle Wai Chow appropriated money from the bank 
and was subsequently charged and briefly jailed. After only three years, Shiu 
Yuan went the way of Wing Tak and Wing Tai and closed down. Father was too 
ashamed to go back to Poh Poh for any more help, so he declared bankruptcy 
and looked for jobs to support the family. He first worked as a broker in Fook 
Chai Insurance, an insurance company subsequently started by Uncle Wai 
Chow, but business was unstable and Father's meagre commissions were often 
not enough to cover our living expenses. Mother, who had enjoyed the luxury 
of a multitude of servants and unlimited amenities before she was married, was 
despondent and became even quieter than before. Her lips were always tightly 
clinched, and I seldom saw her smile anymore. 

I suspected that aside from our deteriorating financial situation, Mother 
was also upset that Father had to live under the shadow of Uncle Wai Chow. 
Even though our family helped him re-start his business, he continued to assert 
authority over all of us as the Kwan family patriarch. One Sunday afternoon, 
when I was playing soccer in front of the Lu Ban Temple with my brothers and 
friends, he passed by on his way home and shouted at us to stop playing and go 
home. "If you keep on playing you'll neglect your school work and fail in your 
examinations," he ranted, "and you'll become a janitor or factory worker. You're 
not going to have any future!" 

I was angry and humiliated and secretly vowed that I would work hard to 
prove him wrong. But by this time, our conditions had further deteriorated. 
Uncle Wai Chow had long mortgaged his mansion on Ching Lin Terrace, and 
his bank finally sold the property when he could not pay his debts. We had to 
move out and rent the ground floor of house No. 12 as our residence, which 
further increased our living costs. 

During this trying period, it was Aunt Rose, Mother's younger sister, who 
provided much-needed relief from the cloud of impending ruin hanging over 
us by taking us out for treats. "Where shall we go today?" she would call out 
to us even before she stepped inside our living room. "How about some ice 

Thoroughly modern and in tune with the latest trends. Aunt Rose would 
treat us to the small Western luxuries which were gradually becoming popular 
in Hong Kong, such as movies, ice cream and steaks. With a square well-set 
face, sparkling dark eyes, spectacles and a booming voice. Aunt Rose was the 
opposite of Mother in style and temperament, though as the only two surviving 
girls in the family they were very close. Unlike Mother, who received only 

Roots 19 

primary school education in a local Chinese school, Aunt Rose studied at the 
Italian Convent, an English secondary school run by the Canossian Sisters. 
Jovial, energetic and quick on her feet, Aunt Rose was determined to experience 
life to its fullest rather than just get married after graduation. She taught in a 
school, joined a swimming club and a martial arts team and, to her family's 
consternation, worked for a circus and toured Southeast Asia with them, visiting 
Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. All this was totally unheard of among young 
women of her time but Gung Gung indulged her, and she unerringly took her 
life into her own hands. 

Following Aunt Rose, we frequented Boston Cafe and Canada Cafe which 
were popular among local Chinese for the novelty of eating Western food, using 
knives and forks. A typical dinner in these restaurants would comprise a bowl 
of borscht, served hot in Hong Kong style, a pork chop with fried onions, and 
a small scoop of ice cream or jelly as dessert. We did not know at the time of 
course that this was Western food with a Chinese flavour, so-called "soya sauce 
Western dishes". Sometimes, Aunt Rose treated us to a Western breakfast and 
my favourite order would be pancakes with butter and syrup. We also went 
regularly to the Queen's Theatre and the King's Theatre in Central to watch 
Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck cartoons and, later, films with Shirley Temple 
who became the dream princess of many Hong Kong children. We also watched 
Charlie Chaplin, and Laurel and Hardy whom local fans called the "Slim Guy" 
and the "Fat Guy". 

In summer Aunt Rose would take us to Repulse Bay, where she would teach 
us how to swim, and when the weather turned cool in autumn we would spend 
our weekends picnicking in the New Territories. Both pastimes were considered 
very "Westernized" by the older generation. Once or twice a year, Aunt Rose 
would treat us to afternoon tea in the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel, known as 
just "The Pen", a large Victorian-style hotel by the harbour then considered 
the pinnacle of Western luxury. We would take the Star Ferry from Central and 
walk to the hotel from the Tsim Sha Tsui ferry terminal. In the cool, spacious 
lobby we would sit contentedly in roomy arm chairs with white covers, eating 
scones with jam and whipped cream and sipping black Ceylon tea with milk 
and sugar. Our eyes would rove in wonder at everything around us: the tall 
white ceiling with gilded rectangular panels; soaring white pillars capped with 
golden floral patterns; the dark brown wooden chandeliers hanging above; the 
meticulously polished silver tea pot reflecting our faces; knives and spoons 
stamped with a crown and lion emblem; and the fair complexions, brown hair 
and blue eyes of the Europeans around us sipping tea and speaking in English. 
Amid the soothing flow of stringed music, sunlight would gently filter into the 
lobby through large arched windows, glide over the white tables and chairs, 
and illuminate the potted palms in the hall. Sometimes I would wonder whether 
all this was real or just a dream. 

20 The Dragon and (he Crown 

While Aunt Rose spoiled us, Poh Poh was also always looking for ways to 
help us. Even though our family budget was tight, both Father and Mother 
insisted that my brothers and I receive a good education. My elder brother Man 
Kwong, Poh Poh's first grandson and one of her favourites, wanted to attend Pui 
Ching Middle School, so she offered to pay for his tuition and boarding fees and 
thus took the burden off my parents. Pui Ching, one of the most prestigious 
Chinese secondary schools in Guangzhou and Hong Kong at the time, was 
founded by a Christian mission and maintained high academic standards; its 
graduates had little difficulty entering well-known universities in China and 
even in the US. With Poll Poh's help, Man Kwong attended Pui Ching in Hong 
Kong, Guangzhou and Macao until graduation. 

School Days and the Seeds of Patriotism 

By the time I started school in 1931, China was under the rule of the Nationalist 
government. Following the National Revolution of 1911, Dr. Sun Yat-sen helped 
found the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) and made a series of attempts to unify 
the country. After his death in 1925, Chiang Kai-shek assumed leadership of the 
Nationalist forces and officially unified the country under a republican Nationalist 
government three years later. The elementary school that all my brothers and 1 
attended — Western District School — was a neighbourhood Chinese school 
under Hong Kong's Education Department but also registered as an "overseas 
Chinese" school with the Nationalist government's Ministry of Education. 

Inheriting Grandfather Yik Po's love of Chinese culture and literature, 
Father insisted that all his sons become learned in Chinese even though we 
were living in a British colony. He was so intent on continuing the family literary 
tradition that when Man Kwong, Tse Kwong and I started school, he personally 
took each of us through a traditional Confucian school-entrance ritual on our 
first day, which I still remember vividly. 

Father and 1 arrived at the school at about seven in the morning. The 
school was a small grey Western-style brick building on a side street flanked by 
traditional Chinese shops selling groceries and dry sea food. The headmaster, 
a thin, stern elderly man in a grey Chinese gown, directed me to a classroom 
and pointed out my seat. The room was small and dimly lit, with about twenty 
small wooden desks and chairs and a portrait of Confucius, looking serene, on 
one of the walls. On my desk were a bamboo writing brush, a stone inkpad, and 
a writing pad with calligraphy paper. Father stayed outside the classroom out 
of deference to the headmaster, but from the corner of my eyes I could see him 
standing by the door and watching me attentively. 1 felt nervous and wished that 
he would come in and stay with me. Before I took my seat, the headmaster told me 
to pay my respects to Confucius, the "Saint among Teachers", and remembering 

Roots 21 

Fathers instructions, I obediently knelt and performed the ritual of kowtow in 
front of his portrait. Then 1 sat behind my desk, and the headmaster and 1 
proceeded to symbolically carry out the acts of teaching and learning. First, he 
read aloud a few verses from a book of Chinese classics, and asked me to repeat 
them after him, which I did three times. Next, he taught me how to hold a 
writing brush and, with his hand guiding mine, 1 wrote a few simple characters 
on the writing pad. After I finished. Father came into the classroom, thanked 
the headmaster and gave him a red paper packet containing some money. This 
signalled the conclusion of my school-entrance ritual. 

Since Western District School was classified as an "overseas Chinese" 
school by the Nationalist government, its curricula generally followed those of 
mainland Chinese schools and we studied Chinese literature and history. More 
important, it taught us that China was our motherland and tried to instill in us 
a feeling of patriotism. Every Monday morning, all the teachers and students 
would assemble in the school hall and sing San Min Zhu Yi (The Three Principles 
of the People) — the anthem of Nationalist China. Then we would observe three 
minutes' silence in honour of the martyrs of the National Revolution, led by Dr. 
Sun Yat-sen, which overthrew the Qing Dynasty. At the end of the assembly, we 
would recite Dr. Suns Last Will and Testament: 

For forty years I have devoted myself to the cause of the National 
Revolution, to raise China to a position of independence and equality 
among nations ... to achieve this, the people must be aroused . . . The 
Revolution has not yet been successfully concluded. Let all our comrades 
continue to make every effort to carry it out. 

These words found a deep resonance in my heart, and I can remember 
every word to this day. So, in the end, it was not loyalty to the emperor that 
would guide me, but rather my new-found love for my country. 

My feelings of patriotism surged to new heights in the ensuing years. On 
18 September 1931, the Japanese invaded the northeast provinces of China, an 
area known as Manchuria. On 28 January the following year, they launched an 
attack on Shanghai, but met with staunch resistance from the 19th Route Army 
which held out for over a month despite orders to retreat. News of the Japanese 
invasion and the armys heroic resistance stirred up unprecedented patriotic 
feelings among Hong Kong Chinese and, to this day, the numbers "918" and 
"128" continue to arouse emotions of sadness, anger and patriotism among 
those of my generation. 

In the British colony of Hong Kong, however, we were safe for the time 
being. Aside from following the latest news from mainland China, life seemed to 
go on as usual. Little did 1 realize then that this was the beginning of a series of 
events in our lives that would irreversibly split and splinter my entire family. 

22 The Dragon and the Crown 

My brothers and I went to school everyday and played soccer with our 
neighbours in front of the Lu Ban Temple when we came home. Father changed 
jobs a number of times to try to make a better living, and even worked for a 
time as a clerk in a dance hall operated by Uncle Wai Chow and his friends. The 
China Dance Hall occupied the top floor of the large, modern China Emporium 
Building on Queens Road Central. China Emporium was at that time one of the 
leading department stores in Hong Kong, selling many imported goods. After the 
dance hall closed, again because of mismanagement, Father found work briefly 
escorting cargo back and forth between Hong Kong and cities on the Mainland. 
Mother became even more worried since Father had already turned forty and 
his health was failing. Later, when Japanese troops started to attack southern 
China, the transport company also folded. Luckily, Eighteenth Uncle Chi Kin 
was able to offer Father a position as a cashier in his Windsor Cafe. Uncle Chi 
Kin had asked Poh Poh for fifty thousand dollars — the same amount that she 
had previously given Father to start his own business — and she consented 
on the condition that he offered Father a job in whatever business he set up. 
Occupying an upper floor of Entertainment Building above the King's Theatre, 
also on Queen's Road Central, Windsor served up-market Western dishes and 
catered mainly to upper-middle-class Chinese. 

All of my brothers and I completed our elementary school education at 
Western District School, but it was not easy considering Fathers financial 
plight. Since the school was not subsidized by the Hong Kong government, 
Father had to pay twenty dollars a term for each of us which was a large expense 
for him. However, a good private Chinese secondary school like Pui Ching cost 
even more. After Man Kwong enrolled in Pui Ching with Poh Poll's help. Father 
was too embarrassed to ask her for any more financial support so, against his 
principle of providing us with a Chinese education, he had to enrol my younger 
brothers and 1 in government-run secondary schools which taught in English 
and charged minimal tuition fees. Father enrolled me in Class Seven (Grade 
Six) at Ellie Kadoorie School in 1936 and King's College the following year, 
and I, of course, owed my knowledge of English and my future careers to his 
change of heart. I would have graduated from King's College in 1942, but my 
secondary school education was cut short by the Japanese invasion of Hong 
Kong in December 1941. 

King's College (founded in 1926) and Queen's College (founded in 1889 
as Central College) were, and still are. Hong Kong's top government schools. 
Many of their graduates went on to attend the University of Hong Kong. Dr. Sun 
Yat-sen attended Central College and graduated from the Hong Kong College 
of Medicine for Chinese (later the medical faculty of the University of Hong 
Kong) in July 1892. When he visited the University in February L923, Dr. Sun 
reminisced about his days in Hong Kong, where he said he first developed 
revolutionary ideas: 

Roots 23 

I feel as though I have returned home, because Hong Kong and its 
university are my intellectual birthplace ... 1 began to wonder how it was 
that foreigners could do such things as they had done with the barren 
rock of Hong Kong within seventy or eighty years, while China, with a 
civilization of over four thousand years, had no place like Hong Kong. 
(Wiltshire, Old Hong Kong, Volume Two 1901-1945, p. 7) 

Kings College stood on Bonham Road on the mid-levels of Sai Ying Poon, 
opposite the University of Hong Kong and directly across from the stairs leading 
to the Tang Chi Ngong School of Chinese. A three-storey Victorian-style red-brick 
building overlooking an enclosed courtyard, with rows of white Doric columns 
and covered verandas on the outside, the school stood out prominently among 
the traditional Chinese tenement houses in the neighbourhood. Providing cover 
to the arched main entrance at the corner of Bonham Road and West Street was 
a semicircular white concrete canopy supported by six Ionic columns. The floor 
above the entrance bore the Royal Coat of Arms and supported a tall hexagonal 
tower with a flag post from which the Union Jack flew. The tower was destroyed 
during World War II but the Coat of Arms and the white canopy remain. 

King's was at that time the most modern and well-equipped school in Hong 
Kong. We had a swimming pool (the first among Hong Kong secondary schools) , 
a modern gymnasium, chemistry and physics laboratories with the most up-to- 
date equipment, and a library stocked with books of all kinds. Our principals, 
successively Mr. Alfred Morris, Mr. William Kay and Mr. H.G. Wallington, were 
all British, but they were open-minded and did not demonstrate any sense of 
superiority over the primarily Chinese students. We used to address them as 
'headmaster" or tax sin sang. Our teachers were of different nationalities and 
were generally highly qualified. Among the most memorable were my Class 
Six mistress Miss Thorn, a Chinese American with an M.A. degree from 
Columbia University, and my Class Two mistress Miss Gray, who held an 
M.A. from Oxford. Among the better known Chinese teachers then were our 
physics teacher, Cheung Wing Min (M.Sc, Oxford), and geography teacher, 
Leung Fung Ki (B.A., Hong Kong), who both later pursued highly successful 
careers in education. Overall, King's offered a vigorous curriculum of language, 
mathematics and science equal in quality to those of British schools. Many of 
the graduates became doctors, accountants or engineers, or worked as clerks 
in commercial firms, or went on to join the civil service (which was one of the 
original purposes of setting up government schools in the colony). 

The school's rather liberal policy towards its students extended to our dress 
code. Officially, our uniform comprised a Western-style dark blue blazer with 
pockets and notched lapels, and a pair of Western-style grey flannel trousers. 
However, not too many students could afford the school uniform and, aware of 
this, the school authorities decided that school uniform was not compulsory and 

24 The Dragon and the Crown 

throughout my Kings College years I never wore the regular school uniform. 
Most of us wore an "East meets West" combination consisting of a loose-fitting 
traditional Chinese-style hip-length coat with buttons on the right side of the 
chest, known as tai hum sam, and a pair of Western-style trousers nicknamed 
lap cheung fu (sausage trousers). After war broke out with Japan, to demonstrate 
their patriotism many students put on "Sun Yat-sen suits", a hip-length tunic 
with Western-style cutting, a stiff high collar and two or four pockets, designed 
by Dr. Sun Yat-sen. After the overthrow of the Qing dynasty, Sun Yat-sen suits 
became the standard uniform for civil servants and military personnel under the 
Nationalist government. Later, Communist Chinese government officials also 
wore this style of jacket, now commonly known in Western countries as "Mao 

My studies at Kings College were highly comprehensive and fulfilling, 
my only complaint being that we had to study European instead of Chinese 
history and that we learned about China through the filter of British lenses. To 
understand China better 1 had to study by myself or seek out other sources, such 
as my brother Man Kwong who, because he attended Pui Ching, was a steady 
and reliable source of information on China. Even though he later attended 
school in Guangzhou we stayed in close touch, and through him I learned about 
the exploits of the Europeans, Japanese and Americans in China, the pillage of 
the imperial palace, the Opium Wars, the unequal treaties, and the National 
Revolution. 1 started feeling resentful towards the British, but I also found it 
difficult to reconcile my feelings with the fact that I was in a British school and 
the beneficiary of a colonial education. Although the contradiction troubled me 
deeply for a long time, I never felt any loyalty towards the British. 

Instead, events soon after I entered King's College heightened my patriotic 
feelings towards China. Following the occupation of the three northeast 
provinces of Liaoning, Heilongjiang and Jilin in 1931 and their formation into 
the puppet state of Manchukuo, Japanese forces gradually infiltrated north China 
as Chinese forces withdrew. On 7 July 1937, the two forces clashed in what was 
later known as the "Marco Polo Bridge Incident" which led to the outbreak 
of the full-scale "War of Resistance against Japan" (the Anti-Japanese War). 
After occupying Beijing (then known as Peiping), the Japanese Imperial Army 
marched southward to take the key cities of Shanghai and Nanjing (Nanking) 
and committed what was known as the Nanking Massacre in December 1937. 
By the second half of 1938, Chinese armies evacuated the strategic industrial 
city of Wuhan in Central China, and the Nationalist government took refuge in 
Chongqing (Chungking) in the western inland province of Sichuan. In October, 
Guangzhou fell into Japanese hands and my brother Man Kwong and many of 
his schoolmates had to leave and return to Hong Kong. 

Roots 25 

The speed and ferocity of the Japanese invasion shook Hong Kong to the 
core and aroused in many local Chinese deep feelings of patriotism that had 
remained dormant under British colonial rule. Students, especially responded 
frantically to the call to support Chinas war efforts. They formed the "All-Hong 
Kong Students' National Salvation and War Relief Association" on 20 September 
1937, after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, and Kings College students lost 
no time in joining this organization. We also saved up every coin from our 
lunch and pocket money to buy National Salvation Bonds and raised funds for 
the purchase of medical supplies to be shipped to the Mainland. Some senior 
students even left to join service corps in the war zones. Others who stayed 
boycotted Japanese goods and smashed the show windows of department stores 
selling Japanese merchandise. A group of my classmates formed the Xingwu 
(Self-awakening) Society to improve themselves and support each other in 
what they saw was a fight against foreign imperialist powers. Wearing Sun 
Yat-sen suits, its members held weekly group discussions and closely followed 
developments in Chinas Anti-Japanese War. They also ran a free evening school 
for children of underprivileged families. 

The highlight of the students' patriotic activities at King's College was the 
holding of a charity bazaar to raise funds for disaster relief in China on 26 
February 1938. The bazaar was held in conjunction with the performance of the 
Wuhan Ensemble which was then touring Hong Kong to publicize and raise funds 
for China's war efforts. Members of the ensemble were among the best singers 
and artists in China, and their performances created a great sensation. Their 
repertoire included songs depicting the sufferings of the people and extolling 
China's war efforts: "Defend our Country China", "March of the Volunteers", 
"On the Songhua River", "Fight Our Way Back to the Northeast" and "Ode 
to the Eight Hundred Heroes". The concert was a rousing success, and as the 
voices of the singers soared to the tall white ceilings of our school hall so did 
our spirits. Thunderous applause resounded through the hall after each song. 
The headmaster, William Kay, was deeply moved and became so sympathetic 
to the students' cause that, aside from urging the audience to donate as much 
as they could, he himself presented the manager of the ensemble with a big 
cheque. It was one of the most emotional moments of my life. Eleven years later, 
in 1949, "March of the Volunteers" became the national anthem of the People's 
Republic of China. 

Despite their heroism, however, Chinese forces were often overwhelmed 
by the superior firepower of the Japanese. I felt powerless at China's weakness 
and longed for the day when China could manufacture its own weapons to 
defend its territory. I began to look for books and magazines in libraries and 
bookstores that would give me information about warships, airplanes, tanks 
and various types of modern weapons; Jane's Fighting Ships was one of my 

26 The Dragon and the Crown 

favourite books. I tried to imagine what modern weapons China could have 
and started to draw the most powerful warships, airplanes and tanks I could 
find: the British battleships HMS King George V and HMS Prince oj Wales, the 
German battleship Bismarck, the British Spitfire fighter, the Japanese Zero 
fighter, the US B-17 Air Fortress, and the British Centurion tank. I would share 
my drawings with Chu Hark Keung who sat next to me in class. Chu was 
strong and athletic, jolly and talkative, but when it came to matters of national 
pride he would become totally serious and fired up by patriotic feelings. Chu 
would later become the Chief Telecommunications Officer at Kai Tak Airport, 
a high position in the colonial government, but he remained full of enthusiasm 
and support for China. 

1 too wished for a strong and independent China and, at that time of our 
youth, our hopes and aspirations were boundless. I would finish my homework 
in the evenings, open my school atlas on the wooden desk in the comfort 
of my bare but snug room, and gaze at the map of China under a bare light 
bulb. I would try to imagine what China would be like if Dr. Sun Yat-sen's 
"Plan for National Reconstruction" and "The Three Principles of the People" 
were realized. Would it be a country which could stand up to foreign powers? 
Would everyone be able to make a decent living and have a voice? I would 
close my eyes and imagine such a day, allowing feelings of patriotism to swell 
inside me. 

During the early years of the Anti-Japanese War, the British colonial 
government was sympathetic toward China and turned a blind eye to anti- 
Japanese activities in Hong Kong. However, Britain changed its attitude 
following the Japanese occupation of many parts of southern China and its own 
losses at the outset of the war in Europe. In order to keep Japan on its side, the 
government declared that Hong Kong was a neutral city, forbade anti-Japanese 
activities and closed the border with China so that strategic materials could no 
longer reach the Mainland through the colony. Hong Kong Chinese who were 
supporting Chinas war efforts were outraged, and feelings began to turn against 
the British. 

During the war years, the British Information Service produced documentary 
films depicting the bravery of the British in their struggle against Nazi Germany. 
These films were distributed throughout the British Empire, and were shown 
in cinemas and government institutions in Hong Kong. At King's College we 
saw films on many well-known episodes such as the evacuation of Dunkirk, 
German air raids on London, dogfights in the Battle of Britain and the sinking 
of the Bismarck. Since we saw the parallels between Nazi Germany and Japan 
we became excited and used to cheer the British on, but when the colonial 
government's attitude toward Japan shifted, our responses also changed. One 
day, a few students started to boo when King George VI appeared on the screen 
and clap when they saw Adolf Hitler; our headmaster was mortified. 

Roots 27 

We carried our protests to other areas. At the end of a film show, when 
the cinemas played the British national anthem, "God Save the King", and the 
audience would stand at attention, my schoolmates and I would rush out before 
the music started to avoid having to stand. Childish as this might be, it was 
our gesture of protest against the policy of appeasement of the Japanese by the 
British. The ultimate refutation of this appeasement came not long afterwards 
when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong on 8 December 1941 and the British 
soon surrendered. 

During the years immediately before the Japanese occupation of Hong 
Kong, I felt torn by the many conflicting forces tugging at me: China was my 
country, but 1 had to live under British rule; I loved China, but 1 was distressed 
by its weakness; and all 1 wanted was to study hard and find a good job, but the 
spectre of war and revolution loomed over me. 

The plight of my family added to my distress. Fathers job as a cashier at 
the Windsor Cafe could barely support our family, but he never asked Mothers 
family for financial support again despite his deep regret in not succeeding as a 
banker. Perhaps hoping that one of his sons could succeed where he had failed, 
after I turned fifteen in the summer of 1940, Father took me to see Fourteenth 
Uncle Shiu Kin, who was then managing Tang Tin Fuk Yinhao, to ask whether 
I could be an apprentice at his bank. 

Tin Fuk was located at the western end of Queens Road Central close to a 
number of other banks. When we arrived we saw an armoured van unloading 
gold ingots and silver coins in front of the banks entrance. Guarded by policemen 
and supervised by Tin Fuks senior officers, coolies carried these precious 
commodities on their backs, bag by bag, to the banks vault in the basement. 
The bank hall was filled with noise: the clattering of the abacuses behind the 
counter, the chatter among bank clerks and customers, and the shouting of the 
coolies. This was my first introduction to banking. 

Uncle Shiu Kin's office was on the second floor, and Father and 1 walked 
quietly up the dark, narrow stairs with heavy hearts. Father and Uncle Shiu 
Kin used to dine together at business banquets and often joked with each other 
after a few drinks, but those happy days were gone. After Father went bankrupt, 
he lost contact with Uncle Shiu Kin, and he looked sheepish and uneasy as 
we climbed the stairs. He must have been embarrassed at having to ask Uncle 
Shiu Kin for a favour which he knew he could not return and, sensing his 
predicament, I grew apprehensive and felt an urge to turn and run. 

Seated behind his reddish-brown rosewood desk, Uncle Shiu Kin rested 
his tall frame on the back of his chair and measured me up and down with cool 
sharp eyes. 1 recalled that when I was younger, he used to be all smiles when he 
handed me my Christmas presents. Now his face was expressionless. 

28 The Dragon and the Crown 

"Tsai Tung, look at you," he said to Father. "Why do you want your son to 
be a banker? It's very hard to do well in this business, as you know Besides, I 
am not sure we have an opening." 

Father gawped as if Uncle Shiu Kin had poured a bucket of cold water over 
his head. His face turned a deep red and my heart sank to the floor. Luckily, 
Uncle Shiu Kin's elderly assistant manager came into the room in time to 
overhear what he had just said. Having been with the bank a long time, he knew 
my father and wanted to help. 

"I may be able to find something," he said soothingly. "But don't expect too 
much. Without a school certificate or any work experience, Sze Kwong can only 
work as an apprentice. He will not receive any salary or bonus, but we will give 
him two free meals a day, one at noon and one in the evening." 

Uncle Shiu Kin took a long look at me and consented to the proposal. 
Sweating, Father thanked him for "giving me a chance." I was dumbstruck 
throughout the meeting, and barely summoned enough will-power at the end 
to open my mouth and thank Uncle Shiu Kin. Over and over again I repeated 
to myself an old Chinese adage: "Only by bearing the hardest hardship can one 
rise to the top." 

So I had my first taste of banking. And hardship it was. My duties included 
sweeping the floors, dusting the furniture and counters, and cleaning the 
spittoons in the offices of Uncle Shiu Kin and his senior officers, which had to 
be the most gruesome part of my routine. I also served tea to visiting customers 
and ran errands, which ranged from delivering important letters and documents 
to buying cigarettes and newspapers for the bank officers. I never had the chance 
to count gold ingots, silver coins or banknotes, or learn to use the abacus — all 
basic skills that Father had hoped I would acquire. What I did learn, however, 
was a thing or two about the inconstancy of human relationships. 

Thankfully, the apprenticeship lasted only one month and I went back 
to school after the summer. That was the last summer of my childhood. The 
following year, the Japanese swept over southern China and overran Hong 
Kong, and banking was farthest from my mind. Little did 1 know that more than 
twenty years later I would indeed succeed Father and take up banking as my 

1. Studio portraits of Grandmother Leung Kuk Kum and Father Kwan Tsai Tung after they 
arrived in Hong Kong in 1916. Note Grandmothers bound feet. 

2. My maternal grandfather 
Tang Chi Ngong (Gung Gung) 
(left) touring Summer Palace. 
Beijing in mid-autumn 1922. 

C E 

- < 

- C 

5. A twenty-five-year-old Aunt 
Rose , 1 93 1 . My thoroughly modern 
aunt treated us to afternoon teas 
at the Peninsula Hotel and other 
Western pastimes. 

4. Man Kwong with Tse Kwong (left) and me (right), 
circa 1929. 

0. Father and Mother circa l l -)40. 

7. Wartime in Liuzhou, Guangxi, 1942. Aunt Rose is flanked by cousins Nai Hei and Lin 
Chee. Tse Kwong is standing behind me. 

8. In my Chinese army uniform with captain insignia 
on my collars, 1943. 

9. Interpreter Training School parade, Kunming, Yunnan, 1942. 

10. With colleagues at Motor School, Qujing, Yunnan, L943. 1 am third from right in the 
middle row. Note the couplet on the pillars. 

Man Kvvong 

Sze Kvvong 

Yuan Kwong 

11. The Kwan brothers in Hong Kong, 1949. Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong left to join the 
revolution soon after these photos were taken. 

* 4 

12. With Mother. Man 
Kwong, Amy and their 
son Cheuk before they 
moved to Singapore, 

13. Mother visiting Yuan 
Kwong (right), and Tse 
Kwong, Yim Sheung and 
their son Niandong in 
Guangzhou. 1963. 

14. \ studio portrait 
witli Wing Km for our 
wedding, L956. This 
picture has always hung 
in our bedroom. 

15. Wedding day, February 
4, 1956. The car, a Wolsely 
belonged to Aunt Rose who 
bought it from Dodwell 

16. Uncle Wai Chow with 
his wife and concubines 
on my wedding day. First 
Aunt is seated next to 
him. with Third Aunt 
to her right. Sixth Aunt 
is standing behind him, 
and Aunt Rose is on the 
far right. 

17. The Tang family at my wedding party. Nineteenth Uncle Shiu Woon is seated far right. 

18. In Civil Aid Services uniform. L957, 
with Victoria Harbour in the background. 

19. The Chan family on the 
gold wedding anniversary' 
of my parents-in-law in 
1958. Hang Chuen and 
Wing Kin are standing 
third and fourth from left 
in the second to last row. 
I am behind Hang Chuen. 
The four Chan siblings 
who left Hong Kong to 
join the revolution are not 
in the photo. 

20. King's College classmates reunion at a wedding party in the early 1960s. I am at the far 
left, Wing Kin is seated fourth from right. Tarn Ting Kwong and Chu Hark Keung are standing 
second and third from right. 

■ il 3E $ 

5^Sj3C^"^S^«38I^WB^EBi^^ ( '^*f**2i^ 

21. Wing Kin in Sung Wong 
Toi Garden, 1959. The three 
Chinese characters on the stone 
are "Sung Wong Toi" — the 
terrace of the Song emperor. 

22. Wing Kin on hoard US 
aircraft carrier in Victoria 
Harbour, l°o9. The former 
Kowloon railwa) station 
with its clock tower is in the 

Baptism by Fire 

Before the Storm 

During the early stages of the Anti-Japanese War, the British believed that Hong 
Kong, like Singapore, was "an impregnable fortress" and that as long as Britain 
remained neutral, Japan would not attack Hong Kong. It took the defeat of the 
Allied forces on the European continent and the formation of the Germany- 
Italy-Japan Axis in 1940 to prompt the British into bolstering the defences of 
these Far East bastions of their empire. 

The year 1941 started optimistically with the centennial commemorations 
of the founding of Hong Kong on 26 January 1841, when a British naval landing 
party hoisted the Union Jack on the island (at the later-named Possession Point) 
and claimed the territory for Britain. The landing followed the Convention of 
Chuanbi (named after the village near Guangzhou where it was signed on 20 
January 1841) and marked Britain's de facto occupation of Hong Kong. The 
Convention was never ratified, however, and the better known (or more 
notorious) Treaty of Nanking, signed on 29 August 1842 and ratified on 20 
June 1843, marked Britain's de jure occupation. To commemorate the landing, 
the colonial government erected a bronze statue of King George VI in the 
Botanical Garden, a popular spot at the mid-levels of Victoria Peak overlooking 
Government House — the office and residence of the governor of Hong Kong. 

In contrast to mainland China, Hong Kong had experienced relative 
political stability and economic prosperity during its one hundred years of 
colonial rule. However, all this started to change in the latter half of 1941, by 
when the war had escalated, the Japanese had occupied Guangzhou and many 
parts of southern China, and Japan had joined the Axis Powers. 

To prepare for a possible Japanese invasion, the colonial government 
mandated all male British subjects above the age of sixteen to join an auxiliary 
group, which included: the Air Raid Precaution Service, the Auxiliary Medical 
Service, the Auxiliary Fire Service, the Auxiliary Transport Service, the Food 

30 The Dragon and the Crown 

Control Service, and the St. John's Ambulance Brigade. These groups would 
often join in exercises held individually or jointly with such uniformed services 
as the Hong Kong Garrison, the Volunteers, the Hong Kong Police, the Hong 
Kong Auxiliary Police, and the Hong Kong Fire Brigade. 

Students, government civil servants, and employees of major banks and 
large corporations were all encouraged to join the auxiliary services. Many 
responded to the call, even though some were not even British subjects by either 
birth or naturalization. Some joined out of genuine concern for Hong Kong, 
some joined out of curiosity, and some simply joined for economic reasons 
since they would then be entitled to a wartime stipend from the government. 

As I was a British subject by birth and had reached the age of sixteen by 
1941, 1 had to join one of the auxiliary services. Since I was still quite young, my 
parents' preference was for a service with less risk in the event of war and, after 
evaluating the options, Father decided that I should join the Air Raid Precaution 
(ARP) Service. "As an ARP warden, you will get the latest news," he said. "You 
can alert us about when to stock up food and where to escape if the Japanese 
come. Besides, you will receive a stipend as well as food rations. This is good for 
the whole family." 

In line with Father's advice, elder brother Man Kwong joined the Food 
Control Service (FCS). He had moved back to Hong Kong after the Japanese 
occupied Guangzhou, and later enrolled in Lingnan University. While attending 
Lingnan he also worked in the evenings as a cashier at the Windsor Cafe and, 
as a member of the FCS, Man Kwong's job was to manage the stocking of food 
supplies at the restaurant. It was a coveted post in a time of frequent shortages, 
and he did his best to keep our family supplied with food whenever we were 

Both Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong were still too young to join the auxiliary 
services, but since he was physically strong and bigger than me, Tse Kwong 
would often follow me when I was on duty, cheering me on and keeping me 

As an ARP warden, my work was to alert civilians during air raids and 1 did 
not have to carry a gun or go into combat. My duties included ushering people 
to the nearest air-raid shelter when an air-raid siren was sounded, making sure 
that every household observed the blackout regulations after sunset, giving 
first-aid treatment to the wounded, and clearing debris from damaged buildings 
if necessary. In addition, we were trained to use gas masks and to teach the 
civilians precautions against poisonous gas attack but, fortunately, the Japanese 
did not use gas when they attacked Hong Kong. 

Baptism by Fire 31 

The Battle of Hong Kong 

The ARP had posts all over the colony with ten wardens to each post. Since I 
was stationed in the Western District at Ching Lin Terrace, where 1 lived, 1 was 
often on duty with our neighbours. We shared a common interest in serving 
our own neighbourhood and enjoyed the excitement of participating in ARP 
exercises, which we treated as war games. At times, we even complained that 
the exercises were not "real" enough. 

On 8 December 1941, only hours after they attacked the US and bombed 
Pearl Harbour, the Japanese started their air assault on Hong Kong. On my way 
to school that clear, sunny morning, I heard the loud wailing of an air-raid siren 
and wondered why my commanding officer had not notified me in advance 
that there would be an air-raid exercise. Then 1 heard the droning of engines 
overhead and the distant thunder of explosions and, looking up, I spotted 
Japanese bombers in the bright blue sky. This was not a game — Hong Kong 
was at war with Japan! Our air-raid exercises were being put to the ultimate 

Mark Young, who was governor and commander-in-chief of Hong Kong 
when the attack started, had taken up his posts only in September that year. 
Shortly afterwards, the British arranged for two Canadian battalions — the 
Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada — to come to Hong Kong 
to reinforce the colonys defences. I had learned about Canada in school, but 
my first actual contact with the country was the sight of these battalions as 
they marched on the Murray Parade Ground on Garden Road. As I squeezed 
my way through the crowd to watch the parade, I caught sight of the young 
Canadian soldiers marching side by side with other contingents of the Hong 
Kong Garrison. To my surprise, they looked only a few years older than me, and 
I remember their fresh young faces and brisk steps to this day. 1 learned after the 
war that many of them were killed when the Japanese attacked, and were buried 
in Hong Kong. 

At the time of the Japanese attack, Major General Christopher Maltby, 
the colony's military commander, had six battalions of regular soldiers under 
his command: the Royal Scots and the Middlesex Regiment from Britain; the 
Rajput and Punjabi regiments from India; and the two Canadian battalions. In 
addition, he also commanded the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps. Even 
though he had quite a large defence force, however, the readiness, morale and 
capabilities of these forces were highly uneven. The British soldiers, known as 
the "Diehards", had good equipment and combat experience, but there were 
doubts about their commitment to defend a colony so far away from home. The 
Rajputs and Punjabis had reputations as fine fighting men, but some suspected 
that their loyalty was to India rather than Hong Kong. The Canadian soldiers 

32 The Dragon and the Crown 

were young, lacked proper training and equipment, and had little combat 
experience; they were in fact "not recommended for operational consideration" 
by their commander, Colonel John Lawson. As for the Volunteers, many came 
from the privileged classes: taipans, government department heads and business 
executives who had been leading rather comfortable lives. Aged nineteen to 
sixty-five and representing some seventeen different nationalities, they had little 
training and no experience. Some journalists even quipped that these men "had 
never held anything heavier than a glass of whiskey and soda". 

The Japanese invasion, on the other hand, was well planned. Long before 
the outbreak of hostilities, Japanese spies (disguised as restaurant proprietors, 
department store owners, tourists, bankers or traders) began collecting military, 
political and economic intelligence in Hong Kong, and the Japanese Consulate 
was a major centre for gathering intelligence. There were quite a few Japanese 
shopkeepers in Wanchai, and 1 remember their smiling faces and courteous 
service. Even though most local Chinese disliked Japan out of patriotism, 
many still chose to buy Japanese goods, which were often cheaper than other 
imports. However, after the start of full-scale war, nationalistic and anti- 
Japanese sentiments drove many young men and women to take to the streets 
in protest, yelling slogans like "Down with Japanese militarism" and "Boycott 
Japanese goods". Some smashed the shop windows of stores selling Japanese 
merchandise, but Chinese policemen patrolling the streets generally turned a 
blind eye. A decade after the war, however, Japanese cameras, television sets, 
electric rice cookers and other goods would once again flood the Hong Kong 
market, and few consumers seemed to remember the pre-war protests. 

Intelligence gathering must have served the Japanese well: their assault on 
8 December was swift and effective, and their air force obliterated in one blow 
the military planes stationed at Kai Tak Airport. The Japanese then bombed the 
dock facilities in the harbour extensively, putting Hong Kongs navy totally out 
of action. Immediately following the air assaults, some fifty thousand Japanese 
troops which had amassed along the border — a battle-hardened force of infantry, 
cavalry, tanks and artillery — crossed the Shenzhen River to attack Hong Kong. 
The colony's forces were simply overwhelmed. The line of defence established in 
the New Territories crumbled within forty-eight hours and, four days after the 
land offensive started, both the New Territories and Kowloon fell into Japanese 
hands. The defence forces, along with hundreds of thousands of local Chinese, 
tried desperately to flee to Hong Kong Island. With Victoria Harbour filled with 
watercraft of all descriptions — navy landing ships, launches, ferries, junks 
and sampans — the scene was like the evacuation of Dunkirk (but on a smaller 

Following the hurried retreat of the Hong Kong defence Forces, Lieutenant 
General Takashi Sakai, commander of the Japanese invading forces, set up his 

Baptism by Fire 33 

headquarters at the Peninsula Hotel (where we used to have afternoon teas with 
Aunt Rose). The Imperial Army was now poised to attack Hong Kong Island. 

The emphasis the British placed on coastal defence had put Hong Kong at a 
disadvantage. The British military authorities had built fortresses at all strategic 
points along the coast of the island, confident that any attack would come from 
the sea. Guns mounted on these fortresses were powerful, with a range sufficient 
to ensure that the colony could put up a good fight if it were to be subjected to 
a naval assault. Unfortunately, the Japanese offensive came from the air and by 
land from mainland China, and most of the fortresses never saw action since 
their guns were pointing in the wrong direction. 

As General Maltby concentrated all his remaining forces on Hong Kong 
Island, the colony braced itself for the siege. On 12 December, the Japanese 
air force began a week-long series of bombing raids over the island to soften it 
up for the coming amphibious assault. Japanese planes flew over Hong Kong 
dropping bombs to destroy the islands fortifications and leaflets calling for 
surrender. Gun emplacements, pillboxes, power plants, oil storage tanks and 
warehouses all became targets for the bombers and artillery, and Hong Kong 
was consumed by fire, smoke, and the deafening roar of exploding bombs and 
long-range guns. After dark, the illuminating lights of the City of Victoria (a 
symbol of Hong Kongs prosperity) were gone and, apart from men and women 
in uniform, nobody would dare to come out of their homes. On the streets 
military vehicles, fire engines and ambulances rushed back and forth, and we 
could see flames gushing from the roofs of bombed buildings. Wounded people 
and dead bodies lay on the pavement, waiting to be picked up by the Medical 
Services and the Sanitary Department; it was a gruesome sight. 

After a week-long bombardment of Hong Kong Island, Japanese forces 
succeeded in taking control of the bluff on the island's northeast coast on 18 
December, and another detachment landed on Repulse Bay Beach to the south 
(where we used to go swimming in the summer). To advance to the urban 
areas, the Japanese troops had to go through Wong Nai Chung Gap, a strategic 
pass with steep hills on both sides, where the Canadian Grenadiers defending 
the gap put up a good fight. There were only about one hundred Canadians, 
outnumbered twenty to one, but they succeeded in exacting four times the 
casualties on the enemy until they ran out of ammunition and were overrun by 
the Japanese. Colonel Lawson and most of his men died in battle. The sacrifices 
of the young soldiers were well remembered in Hong Kong but remained a 
source of deep regret among the Canadians. 

Our house (on the west side of Hong Kong Island) was not in the landing path 
of the Japanese, but could not escape the air assault. Both Ching Lin Terrace and 
the adjacent Tse Lan Terrace suffered human casualties and extensive property 
damage from the seemingly endless bombing. The terraces were built on the 

34 The Dragon and the Crown 

slope of Mount Davis which, because of the fortress with long-range coastal 
defence guns on its summit, quickly became a target of Japanese bomber and 
artillery attacks. Being within close range of the bomb explosions and gunfire 
was a nightmare for the ARP wardens and the residents of the terraces. A few 
days before Hong Kong's surrender, a Japanese bomb missed its target and fell 
on Tse Lan Terrace. We heard a loud bang and saw flames and smoke shooting 
through broken roofs and windows. Shocked, we rushed to the scene (which 
was about two hundred metres from our ARP post) to find the ruins of the two 
houses hit by the bomb and the dead bodies of two young boys. Those who were 
wounded in the explosion were crying for help, and we quickly pitched in to 
give them first aid. This was my initiation to the horrors of war. 

The Japanese bombarded the island ceaselessly from Kowloon Peninsula 
and, as countless shells flew over Ching Lin Terrace, we crossed our fingers each 
time we heard the whizzing above our heads. Then one big shell (about eight 
inches in diameter) fell on the terrace, landing unexploded on the ground in 
front of the Lu Ban Temple. Had it exploded, the neighbouring houses would 
have been wrecked and the casualties horrible, since the schools and shops had 
closed and most people were at home. The shell lay unattended for a long while 
after Hong Kong surrendered and the bombardment ended, since the Japanese 
army engineers were too busy attending to more urgent matters. The residents 
grew increasingly concerned and impatient and, finally, several young men from 
the Terrace suggested that we dispose of this dangerous object ourselves. Tse 
Kwong and I joined the hurriedly-formed amateur shell disposal team; we were 
young and daring, and did not think about the dangers involved. Equipped 
with a long rope, two bamboo poles, a pick and a shovel, the team carefully 
lifted the shell from the ground and carried it to the backyard of the Lu Ban 
Temple, where we dug a big hole for the shell and covered it with sand and mud. 
Heaving a big sigh of relief, the residents rejoiced and applauded the bravery of 
the young men, and many went into Lu Ban Temple to offer incense. 

During the war, abandoned weapons and unexploded shells were left 
scattered all over Hong Kong. With the passage of time, these war-time relics were 
buried underground and were often discovered much later when construction 
workers dug into the sites. These were then either dismantled and dumped, or 
detonated. However, I have not heard of any shell being found at the back of Lu 
Ban Temple, and wonder whether it is still there. 

During the course of battle, we had somehow hoped that Chinese forces 
deployed in southern China would eventually come to our rescue. There was 
a widespread rumour that thirty thousand Chinese troops were approaching 
Shenzhen to attack the Japanese army from the rear. Alas, our hope was in vain 
and the Chinese troops never appeared. The Japanese landing on 18 December 
was followed by a week of bloody fighting on the hills and streets of Hong Kong 

Baptism by Fire 35 

Island. With mounting casualties and the wanton rape and murder of civilians 
by Japanese soldiers, the colony capitulated; on Christmas Day, a white flag 
went up on Government House. Governor Young and General Maltby crossed 
the harbour — which by this time was a graveyard of crippled vessels — to 
surrender formally to Lieutenant General Sakai. The surrender ceremony was 
held in the Peninsula Hotel, and Young himself was held in the hotel before 
being transferred to the internment camp. This marked the end of the Battle of 
Hong Kong, which lasted only eighteen days. 

Those who survived the battle would remember 25 December 1941 as 
"Black Christmas Day". Since the government imposed a curfew during the 
battle and people were not allowed to go out of their homes after dark, on 
Christmas Eve there was neither midnight mass nor Christmas carols. On 
Christmas Day, the churches were deserted and Christians could only pray in 
their houses; all the shops and food stores were closed and everyone braced 
themselves for the Japanese occupation. The rich buried their jewellery and 
valuables in the ground, expecting a period of lawlessness as the police force 
was disbanded. Young women, afraid of Japanese soldiers entering their houses 
looking for "flower girls", put on old clothes and even rubbed charcoal on their 
faces, trying to make themselves look old and ugly. 

The Japanese Occupation 

The triumphant Japanese Imperial Army formally entered the City of Victoria 
on 28 December. As mounted officers followed by columns of soldiers marched 
through the streets of Hong Kong, Japanese war planes flew above them in 
formation. All expatriate soldiers and civilians, especially the British, Canadians, 
Americans and Dutch, were placed in internment camps. To everyone's surprise, 
the Volunteers and Canadian soldiers had fought bravely, even though they 
were the least experienced, and suffered great casualties. Those like me in the 
auxiliary services who had participated in the battle discarded our uniforms and 
put on civilian clothes in order to conceal our identities. Every survivor who 
was not in prison or an internment camp was obliged to come out to greet the 
Imperial Army. We were now at the mercy of a new master. 

During the past century we had enjoyed long periods of stability and 
prosperity under British rule, but what would our new masters offer us? The 
Japanese answered our questions through messages on their wall posters and 
the leaflets dropped from their planes, such as: "Holding high the sacred banner 
of war, the Imperial Army has come to overthrow the rule of the white men"; 
and "Through the solidarity of the coloured people, we will build a new order 
in East Asia". 

36 The Dragon and the Crown 

Then in February 1942, Lieutenant General Rensuke Isogai, the governor 
of the Japanese Occupied Territory of Hong Kong, made the following 

There is no question that Hong Kong belongs to Japan, but consideration 
will be given to the Chinese in the way of administration, which will be 
based on the new order of Greater East Asia, and that means prosperity 
for all . . . (Wiltshire, Old Hong Kong, Volume Two 1901-1945, p. 46) 

To be truthful, there was a certain appeal in Japan's call for a new order 
— the so-called "Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere" — that would 
throw out the Western powers. For some of us who had grown up under the 
humiliation of Western imperialist exploits in China and other parts of Asia, 
the opportunity to overthrow the white mens domination and take back control 
over one's country held some attraction. I had to admit that, like other gullible 
youths, I was initially lured by the idea. But it did not take long before the 
Japanese occupying forces showed their true colours. 

The Japanese set up their Civil Administration headquarters in the massive 
granite Hongkong and Shanghai Bank Building in Central. They also set up a four- 
member Chinese Representative Council and a twenty-two-member Chinese 
Cooperative Council to serve as a bridge between the Japanese occupiers and 
the local people. But in reality, the councils' main function was to ensure that 
government orders were carried out smoothly. Representatives in the councils 
were mostly the rich, famous and influential within the Chinese community, 
and one of the most supportive members of the Chinese Representative 
Council was Chan Lim Pak, to whom I later became related through marriage. 
Chan was a well-known comprador of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking 
Corporation (later known as Hongkong Bank and now HSBC). I was also 
related to two members of the Chinese Cooperative Council: Fourteenth Uncle 
Shiu Kin, who was the manager of Tang Tin Fuk Yinhao and vice-chairman of 
Kowloon Motorbus, and Kwok Chan, the son-in-law of Chan Lim Pak, who 
was the chief comprador of Banque de lTndochine and vice-chairman of the 
Hong Kong Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The Japanese also set up another 
quasi-government agency called the Xingya (Promote Asia) Office to recruit 
professionals to serve in the civil administration as well as head up important 
commercial and industrial positions. Quite a number of engineers, technicians, 
journalists and translators, mostly graduates of Japanese universities, registered 
with the office. 

Flowing with the tide, Hong Kong businessmen stopped dealing with the 
British hongs (trading conglomerates started in the days of the Opium War) such 
as Jardine Matheson and Swire, and instead transacted business with Japanese 
trading houses such as Mitsui and Mitsubishi. They also switched their banking 

Baptism by Fire 37 

relations from Hongkong and Shanghai Bank to Bank of Tokyo or Bank of 
Taiwan. Many started to study Japanese, hoping to find a job or advance their 
careers. I was reminded of old Chinese sayings: "We will pay taxes to whoever 
is the emperor"; and "Those who understand the trend of the times are heroes". 
Having witnessed the rise and fall of successive emperors and dynasties, and the 
more recent coming and going of foreign powers, most Hong Kong people had 
learnt to adapt to change and to work with whoever was in charge. 

Nevertheless, the promise of a "Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere" 
did not stand the test of time, and life in Hong Kong under the Japanese soon 
became a nightmare. Residents lived in terror of the murder, rape and looting 
committed by undisciplined soldiers of the Imperial Army. Wanchai quickly 
became a special zone for brothels catering to the soldiers. On strategic posts 
along the main streets, fierce-looking soldiers with bayoneted rifles would 
demand to inspect pedestrians and cars, and those passing by had to bow to 
the soldiers and subject themselves to searches. Inevitably, some were slapped 
down or thrown into custody. 

Food was in dire shortage. Immediately after entering the city, the Japanese 
forces took over all public and private warehouses and shipped whatever goods 
they deemed to be of strategic value back to Japan. Rice, Hong Kongs most 
important staple food, was rationed, and individuals were allowed to purchase 
only 6.4 taels (about half a pound) of rice per day at official rates. Any quantity 
in excess of this amount had to be purchased in the black market, at exorbitant 
prices, and non-staple foods such as meat, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables 
almost completely disappeared from our family dinner table since they were in 
short supply and extremely expensive. As a result, the poor often suffered from 
malnutrition and some of the poorest died of starvation. 

We were also forced to accept Japanese Military Notes as a medium of 
exchange. In the beginning, the exchange rate between Military Notes and 
Hong Kong bank notes was one Yen to two Hong Kong Dollars, but in October 
1942, the rate changed to one Yen to four Hong Kong Dollars. In June 1943, 
the Japanese authorities disallowed the circulation of Hong Kong bank notes, 
and local people were instructed to surrender any remaining notes to the Bank 
of Taiwan in exchange for Military Notes. The Military Notes were not backed 
by Japans gold or foreign exchange reserves and became totally worthless after 
Japans surrender, so many households lost all their savings. Not everyone 
obeyed the order, however, and those who secretly hoarded Hong Kong bank 
notes made big fortunes when Hong Kong reverted to British rule after the 

The Japanese authorities in Hong Kong rewarded some of their collaborators 
with special concessions; Chan Lim Pak was a well-known example. During the 
occupation, edible oil was placed on the list of controlled food items, since it 

38 The Dragon and the Crown 

had become important in the local diet as meat and fish became scarce. As a 
reward for his cooperation, the Japanese awarded Chan the sole distributorship 
of imported and locally refined edible oil in Hong Kong, and thanks to this 
monopoly his Fook Hing Oil Refiner)' Company made huge profits. Uncle Wai 
Chow knew Chan Lim Pak when they were both in the banking business and, 
with his help, secured a dealership of Fook Ring's products and opened an 
edible-oil retail shop, Ming On. Since Father, who was then suffering from 
tuberculosis, could no longer work for Uncle Wai Chow, he sent his eldest son, 
Man Kwong, instead. The burden of family support thus fell squarely on Man 
Kwongs shoulders as he took up his post in Ming On. 

Chan Lim Pak was one of the biggest beneficiaries of thejapanese occupation, 
but he was notorious among the local Chinese. In 1924, Chan had organized 
the Canton Merchants' Volunteer Corps in Guangzhou to try to block Dr. Sun 
Yat-sen's attempts to launch the Northern Expedition, a campaign to defeat the 
warlords in north China and unify the country 7 . His close collaboration with the 
Japanese destroyed what was left of his reputation and he died a hated man. As 
the war drew to an end, Chan realized that Japan was about to be defeated and 
took his favorite concubine and his valuables on board a ferry to seek refuge in 
Macao. He perished when Allied bombers attacked and sank the ferry. 

Free China 

As food and other materials in Hong Kong continued to be in short supply, 
thejapanese authorities tried to reduce the local population. Under the pretext 
of developing Hainan Island to the southwest of Guangdong Province, they 
rounded up large numbers of young men and shipped them there to work as 
slaves. Many people also left Hong Kong on their own accord, especially those 
who had to flee Japanese persecution: colonial government officials, members 
of the Allied forces who had escaped from internment camps, and people closely 
connected with the Nationalist government or the Chinese Communist Party. 
Others left because they refused to live under Japanese tyranny and wanted 
to look for new opportunities. These included merchants who had business 
connections on the Mainland, students who wished to continue their studies 
at Chinese universities, and people who could not make a living in Hong Kong 
and wanted to stay with relatives and friends on the Mainland. 

Those who could leave legitimately were issued a "Return to Native 
Village Certificate" by the Japanese authorities. However, in the beginning of 
1942, scheduled transportation leaving Hong Kong was confined to only two 
regular ferry services: daily services to Macao, and less frequent services to 
Guangzhouwan, a seaport on the western coast of Guangdong. Like the New 
Territories in Hong Kong, which was leased to the British, Guangzhouwan was 

Baptism by Fire 39 

leased to the French in 1898 for ninety-nine years. When Germany occupied 
France in 1940, however, control over Guangzhouwan effectively came under 
the Japanese. Nevertheless, it still served as a buffer zone between the Chinese 
and Japanese forces in western Guangdong and acted as a gateway through 
which people could move in and out of mainland China unharmed. Those 
leaving Hong Kong through Guangzhouwan would usually head for cities in 
southwest China, such as Chongqing, Guilin, Liuzhou and Nanning, which 
were still free from Japanese occupation. Others leaving via Macao would head 
north to Qujiang, the wartime capital of Guangdong in the northern part of 
the province and an important city along the Guangzhou-Hankou (Hankow) 
railway line. 

We remained in Hong Kong during the first few months of the Japanese 
occupation. While Man Kwong worked for Uncle Wai Chow, I went to study 
Japanese hoping that this would help me to find work, but job opportunities 
were scarce since the economy had almost completely collapsed and I lacked 
any work experience. As Man Kwong's meagre salary could hardly support a 
family of six, Father decided that instead of all of us staying in Hong Kong 
to face hunger, Japanese oppression and possible Allied bombing, the family 
should disperse. Our opportunity came when we learned that Aunt Rose and 
her husband Leung Ki Chai had decided to leave Hong Kong to set up business 
on the Mainland. 

After returning from her Southeast Asian tour, Aunt Rose settled back in 
Hong Kong and started teaching in Yeung Chung, a secondary school for girls 
which Poh Poh had helped to fund. Then, responding to an advertisement, 
she took up a tutoring job at the household of Leung Ki Chai, a merchant 
from Shunde, Guangdong who was doing business in Wuzhou in Guangxi 
Province. Even though Leung already had a wife and six children and was 
much older, Aunt Rose was charmed by his business acumen and his six-foot 
frame and handsome looks. Leung, in turn, found himself attracted to Aunt 
Roses accomplishments and outgoing personality. Unwilling to become Leung's 
concubine, she eventually agreed instead to be his ping tsai — an "equal" wife 
— which was then an accepted Chinese custom. Aunt Rose later suffered a 
miscarriage and was not able to conceive again so, with his wife's consent, Uncle 
Leung let her adopt his youngest son Nai Hei. 

Since Aunt Rose was still single when Gung Gung passed away, she inherited 
some property and a sum of money from his estate. After becoming Leung Ki 
Chai's ping tsai, she became partner with him in a business selling motor vehicle 
parts and accessories. Their firm, Kung Lee, was originally based in Guangzhou 
but moved to Hong Kong in 1938 when the Japanese advanced into Guangdong 
Province. In early 1942, Aunt Rose and Uncle Leung decided to move again with 
their son Nai Hei to escape the Japanese, this time to Liuzhou, an industrial city 

40 The Dragon and the Crown 

in central Guangxi. Sympathizing with my parents' plight, Aunt Rose offered 
to take Tse Kwong, the strongest among us, with them. Father readily agreed, 
since he already wanted the family to disperse, and several months later, after 
Aunt Rose and Uncle Leung had established their business in Liuzhou, Aunt 
Rose wrote to ask me to join them as well. 

Father was happy that I could also go, since Man Kwong's financial burden 
would then become even lighter; but first he needed to find a way to pay for 
my ferry ticket to Guangzhou wan, from where 1 would travel to Liuzhou. 
Reluctantly, Father went to Uncle Wai Chow to borrow money for my fare, 
promising him that I would pay him back as soon as 1 could. 

"I'm not sure I want to go," I said to Father. "I'll never be able to pay Uncle 

"Don't worry," Father said. "This is how you'll do it. Bring extra clothes 
with you and sell them on the way Everything is scarce during war time. You'll 
find people who are willing to pay good money for Western clothes." 

"Your cousin Sai Kwong did that on his way to Guilin," Father continued, 
trying to reassure me. "Besides, you can travel with cousin Lin Chee who will 
be able to help you." 

Sai Kwong, Uncle Wai Chow's son, had already left Hong Kong for Guilin 
in Guangxi, and Lin Chee, his older sister, planned to join him. I was happy to 
have Lin Chee's company. She was a graduate of Belilios Public School (a top 
English girls' school), six years older than me, and very sharp and resourceful. 
As expected, with Lin Chee's help 1 sold all my extra clothes successfully and 
once we reached Liuzhou I quickly remitted the proceeds to Uncle Wai Chow in 
Hong Kong. Thank goodness I kept my promise as we would never have heard 
the end of it from Uncle had I failed. 

Liuzhou and Guilin were in what was then known as Free China, the 
southwestern part of the country which, until that time, had remained free 
from Japanese occupation. Within a few months of the attack on Pearl Harbour 
scores of Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asian territories including Guam, Hong 
Kong, the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, Indonesia and Burma fell rapidly 
into Japanese hands. However, the occupation of China did not go as smoothly. 
When Japan started its full-scale invasion of China in 1937 it thought that China 
would surrender in three months, but nearly five years later it had succeeded 
in occupying only the northeastern and coastal areas. The Japanese had 
underestimated the will of the Chinese to resist, and the Southwest remained 
largely free. 

On 1 January 1942 the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union and China 
signed a joint declaration calling for an all-out effort to defeat the Axis Powers 
China's perseverance in fighting alone against a strong enemy had gained the 
admiration of the Allies and was recognized as "one of the four world powers." 

Baptism by Fire 41 

Soon, whenever people mentioned China, they would refer to it as Free China. 
I found it ironic that China was finally able to achieve an unprecedented 
international standing just as it was suffering from unprecedented oppression. 

After the fall of Hong Kong, local Chinese looked upon Free China as a 
haven from Japanese occupation, and many headed for cities in the Southwest: 
Liuzhou and Guilin in Guangxi Province, Qujiang (also known as Shaoguan) 
in northern Guangdong, Chongqing and Chengdu in Sichuan, Guiyang in 
Guizhou, and Kunming in Yunnan. Together, these areas were called "The Great 
Southwest Bastion of China's Anti-Japanese War." 

Although Father wanted Tse Kwong and 1 to join Aunt Rose in Liuzhou, 
he was quite worried about our leaving since, apart from Man Kwong (who had 
been at boarding school in Guangzhou), none of us had ever left home before. 
To hide his anxiety and sadness, when Tse Kwong and then I were preparing 
to leave, Father reminded us of the Chinese saying: "A young man should have 
the ambition to go to the four corners of the world." On both occasions, Mother 
broke into tears as we hugged her farewell. We ourselves were on the verge of 
crying since we had no idea when or, indeed, whether we would see our parents 

In the summer of 1942, holding our "Return to Native Village Certificates", 
Lin Chee and 1 boarded a steamer for Guangzhou wan. The voyage was highly 
unpleasant. Passengers on the ship were packed in like sardines, the sea was 
choppy and, like many around me, I became horribly seasick. After a few days' 
rest in Guangzhouwan, on a warm sunny morning Lin Chee and 1 crossed the 
border separating Guangzhouwan from Free China. We walked across a bridge 
leading to the Free Chinese side and presented our "Return to Native Village 
Certificates" to the young Chinese army officer stationed at the check-post. In 
response, he issued a "Returned Overseas Chinese Certificate" to each of us, 
which would be our certificate of identity in Free China. After the formalities 
were over, I looked up and saw the Nationalist Chinese flag swaying gently in the 
morning breeze in all its splendour of blue, white and red — "The blue sky, the 
white sun and the red earth underneath". We were on Free Chinese soil at last! 

My certificate of identity in Free China classified me as an overseas Chinese, 
but I found that it had its advantages since I was exempt from compulsory 
military service; as I later learned, being a conscript in the Chinese army could 
be a horrible experience. I began to find out more about the real China as we 
slowly made our way to Liuzhou. 

The first leg of our journey was along the highway from Guangzhouwan to 
Yulin, a town on the Guangdong-Guangxi border about midway to Liuzhou. In 
an effort to obstruct or delay the advance of Japanese troops, the Chinese army 
had demolished this section of the highway so that motor transportation was no 
longer possible. With the very bad road conditions, those who could afford it 

42 The Dragon and the Crown 

would travel in sedan chairs carried on the shoulders of sure-footed coolies. We 
could not pay the fare and had to make the entire week-long journey to Yulin on 
foot, which was exhausting but gave us a good view of the Chinese countryside. 
We passed many villages, and in almost all of them the living conditions were 
primitive. The small wooden houses were all dilapidated, with little or no 
electricity, no running water and no sewers. The villagers' clothes were usually 
tattered and dirty, some children ran around without shirts or pants, and it was 
all a distressing sight. 

As Father expected, Lin Chee took charge, planned our route, and made all 
the decisions regarding meals and lodgings. At Yulin, where we decided to sell 
some of the clothes we had brought, Lin Chee took charge of all the bargaining, 
which I was happy to let her do. In return, I volunteered to do the heavy-duty 
work on our journey and carried our suitcases as we walked. 

From Yulin onwards the highway took shape again and it was possible to 
travel by bus, but our onwards journey was still memorable. Unlike the paved 
highways in Hong Kong, the so-called highway to Liuzhou was only a dirt road, 
muddy on rainy days and dusty when it was dry. To my amazement, instead 
of burning petrol most buses and trucks used charcoal gas as fuel. The buses 
had a cumbersome iron stove with pipes connected to the carburettor, and 
the explosion of ignited charcoal gas would propel the vehicle. A large basket 
holding lumps of black charcoal sat behind the drivers cab. Since charcoal- 
burning vehicles did not have much power, they would often stall and slide 
back when going uphill. To prevent the vehicle from sliding back and causing 
an accident, the bus driver would ask his assistant to get off, run behind the 
bus, and place two big wooden wedges behind the rear wheels whenever the bus 
began to slide. The driver would then hope that at full throttle the bus would 
continue to move forward. This process was repeated at every point on the 
highway that had a slope, and all the passengers would hold their breaths until 
the bus succeeded in climbing uphill again. 

I learned after arriving in Liuzhou that gasoline, all of which had to be 
imported, was a vital strategic commodity and in very short supply. Hence we 
saw posters on city walls saying: "One drop of gasoline, one drop of blood!" 
Without gasoline, air force fighters and bombers would be grounded and army 
motor transportation would stand still. However, I found out that even though 
imported gasoline was allocated only to government and military departments, 
rich merchants and shrewd drivers could procure this precious fuel easily on the 
black market. 

I started life in Free China full of expectations, and when 1 arrived in 
Liuzhou I looked forward to seeing a strong and prosperous country. I was 
proud of the saying that China was "one of the four world powers." Yet the 
picture I saw was one of poverty, corruption and incompetence. 

Baptism by Fire 43 

The signs that Chinas economy had been wrecked by war were everywhere. 
Imported goods were virtually unavailable because of enemy blockades, and 
commodity prices skyrocketed due to scarcity The government was forced to 
print more paper money to procure supplies, which in turn led to even greater 
inflation. Hoarding, which became commonplace among merchants and 
manufacturers, further aggravated the situation. This practice was not confined 
to civilians; government organizations such as the Central Bank, the Bank of 
China, the Bank of Communications, the Farmers 1 Bank of China, the Central 
Trust and many others did the same. These organizations set up their own 
companies to join in the profiteering, along with many government officials 
in high positions (especially those in charge of financial and economic affairs). 
Meanwhile, lower-level civil servants, teachers, clerical staff, factory workers 
and other salary earners had a difficult time making ends meet. As could be 
expected, the rich became richer, the poor became poorer, and resentment 
against the Nationalist government mounted steadily. 

To sustain the fight against Japan, the government urged people to join 
the army. Two popular slogans were painted on walls or hung on banners in 
cities and villages: "The entire nation in arms" and "Every citizen a soldier." 
The conscription of soldiers, which continued unabated throughout the Anti- 
Japanese War, was based on the traditional baojia system organized on the 
basis of households: ten households made up a jia, and ten jia made up a 
bao. Every year, village, county and municipal governments would report the 
number of young men eligible for conscription to the provincial government. 
If there were more than one eligible young man in a household, one of them 
would be conscripted that year, so that only one son in each family would 
be exempt. Also exempt were "Returned Overseas Chinese Certificate" 
holders like myself. Peasants, who accounted for some 80 percent of Chinas 
population at that time, made up most of the recruits and suffered the bulk of 
the casualties. 

The peasant soldiers were largely uneducated, had little modern military 
training and were poorly equipped. Each soldier was armed with only a bayoneted 
rifle, a small amount of ammunition and two hand-grenades, all of which were 
usually either crudely manufactured or obsolete. There was no standardization 
in the weaponry, which the army imported from many places: Germany, the 
Soviet Union, Japan, Britain, France, and the United States. The soldiers wore 
uniforms made of coarse cloth, which kept them neither warm in winter nor 
cool in summer, and none of them had helmets or boots. Many were shod only 
with cloth shoes or straw sandals although, with little transportation, they had 
to move primarily on foot. The battlefield rations for the troops consisted of 
dried fried rice contained in a sausage-shaped sack which the soldiers swung 
around their shoulders. 

44 The Dragon and the Crown 

Corruption was rampant within the military. Pay and provisions for 
soldiers in an army unit were allocated in a lump sum to the unit commander 
for distribution to the troops. As a result of heavy combat casualties, desertion 
and deaths caused by malnutrition and disease, most army units were under 
strength and the number of soldiers in actual service was always less than that 
on the regular payroll. This meant that a unit commander often did not have 
to distribute all of the pay and provisions allocated to his unit, and quite a 
few kept the undistributed portions for themselves. To counteract this, the 
Central Military Commission would send inspectors periodically to the various 
army units, but a delinquent commander would respond by borrowing soldiers 
from other divisions or by herding poor peasants into his barracks. When the 
inspection was over, the peasants would either be driven away or kept in the 
army to work as coolies. 

As salaries could not catch up with inflation, many lower- and middle- 
level officers would look for ways to augment their income, often through 
unlawful means. Officers in the quartermaster corps, for example, would 
purchase military supplies and equipment in the name of the armed forces and 
then sell them secretly on the black market. High-ranking officers were often 
bribed to turn a blind eye to such profiteering. While both senior and junior 
officers benefited from almost unchecked corruption, the ordinary soldiers 
suffered from poor food and clothing, hard labour and insufficient medical care, 
not to mention having to risk their lives in combat and sometimes incurring 
unjust punishment. It was little wonder that both the morale and the fighting 
capabilities of the Chinese troops were low compared to the more disciplined 
and much better equipped Japanese soldiers. 

China did have some crack troops but many like those who had fought in 
Shanghai in 1937 to international acclaim, had been decimated by the superior 
land, sea and air power of the enemy. More regrettably still, the cream of the 
Chinese army (some four hundred thousand strong) was reportedly often 
deployed to contain the troops of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rather 
than to stop the Japanese advance. Founded in 1921, the CCP had built up its 
own armed forces and was seen as a serious threat by Chiang Kai-shek, who 
headed the ruling Nationalist government. During 1930-34, Chiang launched 
five campaigns to try to exterminate the CCP, but some of its troops managed 
to escape. The survivors undertook the legendary Long March and retreated 
to Yan'an in the remote inland province of Shaanxi, where they managed to 
become self-sufficient and successfully held out against Nationalist forces. 
During the war, the Communists and Nationalists agreed to form a "United 
Front" against the Japanese, but they remained highly suspicious of each 
other and continued to deploy troops to counterbalance each others forces. I 
was unaware of the complicated political situation then, and believed that all 

Baptism by Fire 45 

Chinese armed forces should join together to fight the Japanese instead of each 

During my stay in Liuzhou in 1942, the land war between China and Japan 
had slowed down while the armies on both sides regrouped. However, the 
Japanese air force intensified its activities and bombed undefended Chinese cities 
in an attempt to demoralize the people and further destroy the Chinese economy. 
The degree of destruction was unimaginable, with tens of thousands of civilians 
killed or wounded and the infrastructure of the cities, military installations and 
civilian property turned to rubble. Running for shelter during air raids became a 
part of daily life for people living in Liuzhou, Guilin, Chongqing, Kunming and 
other major cities in the Southwest. The bombing did not break Chinas will to 
resist, however, and the fighting wore on. 

During the Battle of Hong Kong, the air-raid sirens were sounded only 
when enemy bombers were already flying overhead, and we often did not have 
enough time to get into air-raid shelters. The situation in China was better and 
people had plenty of time to take cover, thanks to the unique air-raid warning 
system on the Mainland. Underground Chinese agents in Japanese-occupied 
territories would monitor enemy activities and file intelligence reports to the 
Chinese government by wireless or long-distance telephone. As soon as they 
spotted Japanese aircraft taking off from the airfields, they would notify the 
Chinese air defence command of the direction of their flight, which gave us 
ample warning of oncoming attacks. Also, as the cities of Liuzhou, Guilin and 
Chongqing were built on hilly ground and surrounded by mountains, there 
were many caves which could serve as natural air-raid shelters. 

The air-raid warning system was divided into three stages: Stage One 
denoted that enemy planes had taken off from their base; Stage Two denoted 
that enemy planes were approaching the city from a distance; and Stage Three 
that enemy planes had reached the city's air space. To ensure that warning signs 
were visible to all citizens, large black balls were hoisted on tall poles erected on 
hill tops. Either one or two black balls would be hoisted to correspond with the 
initial two stages of warning, and a series of short blares from the air-raid sirens 
marked the third stage. When enemy planes left the city's air space, the two 
black balls on the pole would be lowered and the air defence command would 
sound the "air-raid over" siren, which was a long blare. During night attacks, 
lanterns were used instead of black balls. 

Liuzhou and Guilin were at that time the most popular safe havens for 
people from Hong Kong. Liuzhou, a city of merchants, industrialists and traders, 
is the centre of Guangxis railway and motor road network. Guilin, on the other 
hand, is a city well known for its culture and spectacular scenery. Many Hong 
Kong students, including some of my classmates from Kings College, continued 
their higher education in Guilins Guangxi University. After staying for a short 

46 The Dragon and the Crown 

period in Liuzhou, Lin Chee went on to join her younger brother Sai Kwong in 
Guilin where they were both able to find work. Sai Kwong worked as a clerk in 
a drugstore run by his Pui Ching schoolmate from Hong Kong, and Lin Chee 
found work as a receptionist in a photo studio. At that time, the American 
Volunteer Group (American pilot volunteers led by Claire Chennault) had set 
up air bases in various parts of the Southwest to help China with its air defence. 
When off duty, airmen from these bases would come to Guilin for sightseeing, 
and Lin Chee's fluent English attracted many of them to the studio to develop 
their films. Lin Chee later married the studios owner, Kwong Shiu Wah, a 
merchant from Foshan, Guangdong, while Sai Kwong married a Guangxi native 
towards the end of the war. 

I spent over a year in Liuzhou working in Uncle Leung's auto accessories 
firm Fook Lee. Aunt Rose had sent Tse Kwong to study bookkeeping and 
accounting, and her adopted son Nai Hei to attend middle school with the aim 
of eventually entering university. Although Tse Kwong was contented with 
learning to be a bookkeeper and later an accountant, I had no intention of 
giving up hope of going to university and had always thought that 1 would not 
be an apprentice for long. However, our dreams were shattered when we heard 
that Father had died. 

The news reached us in a hot quiet afternoon in late July, when most 
people had stayed indoors to keep away from the heat, the kind of humid, all- 
consuming heat that enveloped most of southwest China during the summer. 1 
was working in the auto accessories shop, sweating from the heat, when Mothers 
letter arrived from Hong Kong. 1 tore it open eagerly, but immediately my mind 
went blank. In her small, neat handwriting, Mother told us that Father had 
died of tuberculosis. I was in shock and ran to Tse Kwong's school to tell him 
the news. We held each others hands, our eyes swelled with tears and we were 
at a loss for words. That night, trying to recover from our sadness, we decided 
to write to Mother to console her, promising her that her four sons would take 
good care of her. 

Surprisingly, Mother seemed to be quite stoic about our loss. Perhaps she 
knew that she had to keep our spirits up in order that we could survive the war. 
"1 know you must feel very sad," Mother wrote. "But you have to be strong. You 
are grown ups now. People will look down on us if we become too emotional." 

Father passed away on 13 July 1943, at the young age of forty-five. After 
that, I never had the chance to enter university, and Tse Kwong never realized his 
goal of becoming an accountant. We both felt strongly that we had to try to earn 
more money in order to support ourselves. Tse Kwong stopped going to classes 
and started to work as a clerk in Uncle Leung's shop; later, he became Uncle 
Leung's assistant and even tried to start his own business. In the meantime, 
while hanging on to my job, 1 kept a lookout for other work that could be more 

Baptism by Fire 47 

lucrative and meaningful. My opportunity came when the United States decided 
to send its military personnel to China to help fight the war. 

Wartime Interpreter 

By the late 1930s, all of China's coastal ports had fallen into Japanese hands, and 
China could depend only on two land supply lines to sustain its war efforts: the 
Yunnan-Burma highway, known as the Burma Road, and the Yunnan-Indochina 
railway. After the defeat of France and the British Expeditionary Force by 
Germany in 1939, the Allies conceded Japan's demand to close both routes. 
The railway was kept closed until the Japanese surrendered in 1945, but the 
Burma Road was re-opened after three months because of pressure from the 
United States. In March 1941, the US Congress passed the Lend-Lease Act to aid 
democratic countries in their fight against the Axis Powers, and China was one 
of the recipients. The first shipments of Lend-Lease supplies from the US came 
through the Burma Road just after the British re-opened it, and to close this last 
remaining supply line Japanese planes started to attack convoys on the highway. 
China was helpless since by this time its air force had disintegrated, having lost 
practically all of its warplanes and most of its pilots. 

After repeated negotiations, the Nationalist government succeeded in 
persuading US president Franklin D. Roosevelt to send aircraft and pilots to 
China to intercept Japanese warplanes over the Southwest and to keep the Burma 
Road open. As the US was not yet at war with Japan at that time, Roosevelt had 
to issue an executive order quietly on 15 April 1941, permitting pilots to resign 
their existing positions in the armed forces temporarily and go to China to fight 
the Japanese as mercenaries. They were enticed by salaries of up to US$750 
per month, plus travel allowances, housing, and a bonus of US$500 for each 
Japanese plane shot down. 

The US recruited one hundred pilots and assigned a hundred P-40 fighters 
to Claire Chennault, a retired army air force captain, to form the American 
Volunteer Group (AVG). Chennault had recommended the P-40 because 
of its greater power and speed, which he thought could overcome the high 
manoeuvrability of the Japanese Zero fighter. The AVG was formally established 
on 1 August 1941 in Kunming. Large shark-heads with gaping jaws were painted 
on the snouts of the P-40s, and the AVG was nicknamed "The Flying Tigers" 
— a term the Chinese used for crack troops. 

On 20 December 1941, after bombing Kunming and Chongqing for a year 
without resistance, the Japanese were taken by surprise when they ran into the 
shark-faced P-40s in the skies over Kunming. Making use of the impressive 
diving speed of their heavy planes, the AVG pilots wreaked havoc on the Zero 
fighters and sent them scurrying back to their base at Hanoi. This was the first 

48 The Dragon and the Crown 

victory of the AVG over the Japanese air force. As the war progressed, the AVG 
was given more planes and personnel, and eventually expanded to become 
the Fourteenth Air Force of the US Army. This unit continued to be under the 
command of Chennault, who was promoted to the rank of Major General. 

By early 1942, however, Japanese forces were on their way to conquering 
Burma and shutting down all supply lines to China. Protecting the Burma Road 
therefore became of utmost urgency, but a weakened China, even with the 
help of the AVG, would not be able to do this job on its own. Help was needed 
from the Allied powers. Since a strong Japanese presence in Burma would also 
threaten India and alter the balance of power in Asia, the US and Britain decided 
to set up the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theatre of War and join forces with 
China to counteract the Japanese advance. Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell 
was designated the commanding general of US Armed Forces in the CBI Theatre 
and was simultaneously named Chief of Staff to the Supreme Commander of the 
China Theatre (Chiang Kai-shek), Supervisor of the Lend-Lease Agreement, and 
the US representative on any Allied war council. Stilwell, who spoke Chinese, 
was first stationed in China during 1926-29, and again in 1935-39. Chiang Kai- 
shek placed the Chinese Expeditionary Force, comprising the Fifth and Sixth 
Armies, under Stillwell's command. The air was covered by the US Tenth Air 
Force, based in India, as well as the Flying Tigers. 

Despite their concerted efforts the Allied troops lost Burma to the Japanese, 
primarily because of lack of coordination. By the end of May 1942, the Japanese 
had completed their conquest and the Allies were forced to retreat in disarray. 
British and Indian troops hurriedly withdrew to the west of the Indian-Burmese 
border, while remnants of the Chinese Expeditionary Force either sought 
refuge in north India or fled home to Yunnan Province. Advancing along the 
Burma Road, Japanese troops headed eastward to occupy the westernmost part 
of Yunnan and stopped only when they reached the Salween River, where the 
retreating Chinese troops had destroyed the main bridge. 

Without the use of the Burma Road, providing supplies to Free China 
became extraordinarily difficult. Gasoline, munitions and many other vital 
military supplies had to be shipped by air from north India to southwest 
China, flying over the Himalayas. Lend-Lease supplies were first sent by sea 
to Calcutta, then by land to Assam in northeast India, and finally by air to 
Kunming. American airmen called the Himalayas "the Hump". Flying over the 
Hump was highly perilous because air currents were so turbulent that they 
could crush an airplane. To make matters worse, Japanese fighters also posed 
constant threats; together, these two hazards brought down over four hundred 
US transport planes during the course of the war. 

Nevertheless, until the re-opening of the Burma Road the US managed 
to airfreight a constant supply of much-needed materials to Free China. The 

Baptism by Fire 49 

US Air Transport Command initially gave Stilwell only twenty-five transport 
planes; in October 1943 the number was increased to one hundred, with the 
goal of transporting 5,000 tons of cargo each month. As the Allies started to 
regain control over Burma, the monthly airfreight volume soared to 18,000 tons 
in June 1944, and eventually peaked at 46,000 tons in January 1945. 

Towards the end of 1942, Stillwell started to amass his forces for regaining 
control of the Burma Road as well as counterattacking the Japanese in China. 
Retaining his faith that Chinese conscripts, if properly fed and trained, could 
become first-class fighting men, Stilwell began to work on increasing the combat 
efficiency of the Chinese troops assigned to him. He organized them into three 
groups: X-force, Y-force and Z-force. The mission of the first two was to re-open 
the Burma Road and then join up with Z-force to launch a counterattack against 
the Japanese armies in central, south and east China. 

Before that, however, the Chinese forces required extensive training. X- 
force was based in Ramgarh, about two hundred miles west of Calcutta, while 
Y-force and Z-force were drawn from divisions in Kunming and Guilin. Rather 
than train whole divisions at once, Stilwell proposed a system of training by 
cadres, who in turn would train their fellow soldiers. All cadres had to be 
trained in military tactics and combat techniques, as well as in the handling of 
machine guns, mortars, rocket-launchers, anti-tank guns and other equipment 
for specialized combat duties. Cadres of X-force and Y-force, who would take 
part in the Burma Campaign, were also required to attend a course in jungle 

Along with the opening of the Assam-Kunming air route, two herculean 
engineering projects were launched to deliver supplies to China. One was the 
Ledo Road, which would begin in Assam and cross the mountains, forests 
and rivers of north Burma to meet the Burma Road at Longling in western 
Yunnan Province. The other project was a 1,800-mile pipeline from Calcutta 
to Kunming, which would augment the limited amount of fuel that could 
be shipped along the Assam-Kunming air route, and thus allow China to 
expand its air operations. Since, according to the press, it then required a ton 
of gasoline to deliver a ton of cargo by air to China, these two land projects 
were critical to expanding the flow of supplies to the country. Construction 
had to follow closely behind the offensive carried out by X-force, and unless 
the campaign succeeded neither the road nor the pipeline would be able to 
reach China. 

To ensure the success of his program, Stilwell established a system of 
American liaison teams or single officers to serve as advisors to Chinese 
commanders at each level of the military organization. For this system to 
work effectively it was essential for Chinese and American officials at all 
levels to overcome the language and cultural barriers between them and fully 

50 The Dragon and the Crown 

communicate with each other. This created an opportunity for those who, like 
me, were bilingual to join the military and serve as interpreters. 

The Nationalist government started its interpreter programme in November 
1941 when it set up the War Area Service Corps (WASC), headed by Major 
General Huang Ren-lin, to provide support to the American Volunteer Group 
then deployed in Kunming. Aside from building hostels and airport facilities, 
the WASC also employed interpreters to facilitate the AVG's missions in 
Kunming and other subsequent locations. However, many more interpreters 
would be needed to support Stilwells training plan for the Chinese troops. To 
meet this requirement, the Foreign Affairs Bureau (FAB) under the Chinese 
Military Commission took charge of coordinating the recruitment, training and 
assignment of interpreters. The FAB was headed by Lieutenant General Shang 
Chen who was then in charge of Chinas military liaison with the Allies. 

The FAB launched a massive recruitment drive, aimed primarily at university 
students and returned overseas Chinese. The best universities of China had 
moved from the coastal provinces to the Southwest as the Japanese advanced. 
Some continued to operate as before, while others merged with existing 
universities in southwest China or amalgamated to form a single university. 
Tsinghua University and Peking University in Beijing joined with Nankai 
University in Tianjin to set up the National Southwest Associated University in 
Kunming, and Yenching University and other Christian institutions relocated 
to the site of the West China Union University in Chengdu. As the need for 
English speakers dramatically increased, the Ministry of Education decided that 
third- and fourth-year university students with a sound knowledge of English 
would be conscripted to work as interpreters in the armed forces. Even though 
Hong Kong people in Free China were "overseas Chinese" and thus not subject 
to conscription, many decided to join as volunteers. The colonial education 
system in Hong Kong had provided us with a good knowledge of English, and 
many former civil servants, students, teachers and office clerks who had taken 
refuge in Free China responded eagerly to the FABs recruitment advertisements 
for interpreters. 

To recruit people from Hong Kong, the FAB Interpreter Training School held 
its entrance examinations in Qujiang, Guilin and Liuzhou, the three main cities 
where the returnees congregated. As I was excited by the opportunity to serve in 
the army and also saw this as a chance to pursue a different career, I responded 
to the FAB advertisement in the newspapers and sat for the examination in 
Liuzhou in October 1943. The examination was divided into two parts. The first 
was an oral test, and I was interviewed by a professor of English from a Chinese 
university and an American army officer. The second part was a written tost 
which required two pieces of translation — from Chinese to English and vice 
versa — and an autobiography in English. 

Baptism by Fire 51 

As soon as I received notice that I had passed the examination, I decided to 
resign from my position at Aunt Roses auto accessories shop. Tse Kwong and 
some of my younger colleagues were happy for me, since they too thought that 
I would have a better future in the army, but Aunt Rose disagreed. 

"If I were you I would stay with Uncle Leung," she said. "It's always better 
to be a businessman than a soldier. Look at Tse Kwong. He's very obedient 
towards Uncle Leung, and I'm sure Uncle Leung will treat him well." 

Tse Kwong listened quietly to Aunt Roses arguments, but he told me 
afterwards that I need not follow her advice if I thought that joining the army 
would give me a better future. 

Aunt Rose and Uncle Leung were not at all happy about my choice. Aware 
of the dangers of war, those of my parents' generation generally believed in the 
saying, "A good son should never join the army," but since I had already turned 
eighteen they let me make my own decision. I said good-bye to them and set 
off from Liuzhou. Aunt Rose and Uncle Leung were sad to see me go, but Tse 
Kwong was secretly proud of his "patriotic" elder brother. 

Some fifteen candidates, mostly young men from Hong Kong like me, 
passed the examination in Liuzhou. Guided by an FAB officer, we travelled 
together by train to Guilin, joined another fifteen candidates there, and boarded 
a US Army C-47 transport plane for Kunming. As the cabin was not pressurized 
the journey was highly uncomfortable and everyone except the pilot and the 
cabin crew became air-sick. Still, this did not prevent me from looking through 
the cabin window at the expanse of mountains and rivers as the plane flew over 
the vast plateau which spans the provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou and Yunnan. 
Seeing this magnificent view of my motherland from the air for the first time, I 
was exhilarated and almost forgot how air-sick I felt. 

The FAB Interpreter Training School was located at the western end of 
Kunming in a large compound with a dormitory, a mess hall, several classrooms, 
an office, an assembly hall and a parade ground. Major General Huang Ren- 
lin, the director of the WASC, was the nominal head of the school, but daily 
administration and training were the responsibilities of three National Southwest 
Associated University professors, a major in the Chinese army, and several US 
army officers. The students were called cadets and came under the jurisdiction 
of the FAB. 

We were the first class to enrol in the Training School, and the six-week 
course started in November 1943 with 150 cadets; ten classes in all were 
eventually held. Aside from some thirty overseas Chinese recruited in Liuzhou 
and Guilin, the rest of our class were mainly students from the National 
Southwest Associated University studying foreign languages or engineering. 
Our curricula included oral and written translation from English to Chinese 
and vice versa, the cultural practices of China and the US, information on the 

52 The Dragon and the Crown 

organization and weapons of the Chinese and US armed forces, and international 
affairs. In addition, our schedule included visits to the Y-force infantry and field 
artillery training centres, as well as daily military drills and training (since we 
were now part of the armed forces). As military cadets, we were expected to 
jump up and salute each time our instructors mentioned Chiang Kai-shek or 
Dr. Sun Yat-sen by name. Despite my patriotism, I was uncomfortable with this 
flagrant worshiping of authority, and I thought the practice (which I never got 
used to) must stem from China's feudal traditions. 

It also took me some time to adjust to the Mandarin (Putonghua) taught 
at the Training School. My mother tongue was Cantonese, the dialect of the 
inhabitants of Guangzhou and Hong Kong, while Mandarin, based on the 
principal dialect spoken in and around Beijing, was the official spoken language 
of China. Fortunately, I had attended YMCA Mandarin classes in Hong Kong in 
the hope that one day I might return to serve my motherland. After I set foot 
on the Mainland, however, I was dismayed to find that people did not really 
understand me because of my Cantonese accent. My Mandarin improved a lot 
after I finished training, but it took me a while to overcome the old saying: in 
heaven and on earth, there is no more dreadful din than that of a Cantonese 
speaking Mandarin!" 

The use of different dialects created factionalism among the cadets at 
the Training School: mainly among those who spoke Cantonese, those who 
spoke Shanghainese, and the others. Historically Western influence was 
greatest along Chinas coastal regions, especially in cities like Hong Kong and 
Shanghai. As a result, graduates of the University of Hong Kong and Shanghais 
St. John's University, for example, were generally more fluent in English than 
their counterparts from other universities in China. The same applied to the 
standard of English among my classmates and, feeling superior to the rest of 
the class, Hong Kong and Shanghainese cadets formed their own exclusive 
groups. Both groups would speak their own dialects not only in private but 
also occasionally in public, and looked down upon those whose English was 
not as fluent. Some of the other cadets felt insulted and fought back by calling 
the Hong Kong cadets "running dogs of colonialism" and commented on how 
poorly we spoke Mandarin. In retaliation, Hong Kong cadets reminded them 
of their awkward English pronunciation. This factionalism among the cadets 
made me very unhappy, and I wondered how this could happen at a time when 
our country was fighting for its survival. No wonder Dr. Sun Yat-sen once said 
that the Chinese people were like a "heap of loose sand." 

Aside from having to work on my Mandarin, I was also surprised to find that I 
had to adjust to the English taught at the Training School. While I had learned the 
King's English under Hong Kong's colonial education system, most people at the 
Training School spoke American English largely because of the Americanization 

Baptism by Fire 53 

of the country's higher education system starting at the turn of the century. After 
the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, China had to make significant indemnity payments 
to Western powers, including the US. In 1908, however, the US Congress decided 
to allocate half of Americas share of this indemnity payment — about US$12 
million — for a programme to send one hundred students a year to study in 
the US, until the funds ran out. Over 1,200 students eventually benefited from 
this programme. To prepare these students, part of the funds were used to build 
Tsinghua College in Beijing, which later became Tsinghua University. Also 
around this time, American missionaries started to set up universities in various 
parts of China. By the 1940s, thousands of graduates from Tsinghua and these 
missionary universities had gone to the US to further their education, and those 
who returned to China after finishing their studies brought with them a strong 
American influence. As a result, I found that I had to learn American diction in 
the Training School and use American spelling and grammar to make my writing 
acceptable to my instructors. I did not mind the effort, however, since I would be 
working with US military officers after graduation and learning American English 
would help me become a better interpreter. 

Upon completing our training in December 1943 we were commissioned 
in the Chinese Army with the rank of captain. Most of the interpreters were 
dispatched to the FAB and sent on assignments to US Army Headquarters in 
Kunming, which was responsible for all US army activities in Yunnan, including 
liaising with the Chinese Expeditionary Force Headquarters regarding training, 
assigning US army liaison teams to various units of the Y- force, and providing 
logistical support. Except for a few who stayed in US Army Headquarters, most 
of the FAB interpreters were re-assigned to work with US army instructors at Y- 
force cadre training centres, such as the Infantry Training Centre and the Field 
Artillery Training Centre, as well as other smaller training centres for the Signal 
Corps, Engineer Corps, Medical Corps and Motor Transportation Corps. In 
the final phase of the war, some FAB interpreters were engaged by the Office 
of Strategic Services (OSS) (which was reorganized as the Central Intelligence 
Agency (CIA) after the war) and were often parachuted into Japanese-occupied 
territories to carry out intelligence activities and sabotage. This must have been 
the most risky assignment for interpreters. 

Those interpreters who were not dispatched to the FAB were sent to the 
WASC, the Chinese Expeditionary Forces in India, or the Aviation Commission 
of the Chinese government which handled arrangements with the US government 
for training Chinese air force pilots in the United States. 

Many interpreters like me had originally joined the armed forces as an act 
of patriotism, but as time went by our patriotism was put to the test. The loss 
of Chinas key cities and industrial base had ruined the country's economy and 
conditions were made even worse by corruption within the government and 

54 The Dragon and the Crown 

the military. Our rations were poor and the Chinese army uniforms (with a 
high-collared Chinese-style jacket) which we wore in the Training School were 
coarse and ill-fitting. For the winter, the jacket was bluish-grey and thickly 
padded with cotton; for the summer, it was field-green with only a thin layer of 
coarse cotton cloth. Our shoes were made of cloth, and we had to wear puttees 
(strips of cloth wrapped spirally around the lower legs of our breeches) for 
support and protection. Each cadet was also issued a cotton padded blanket 
roll, a canvas field pack, a leather belt and a metal canteen. After we received 
our respective assignments, in order that we should not look too shabby as 
representatives of our country in liaison with foreign military advisors, many 
of us decided to use our own money to buy leather shoes and tailor-made 
uniforms. To save up enough money we needed to cut down on dining out and 
other entertainment, and instead ate in the dining hall and stayed on campus 
during our days off. 

Our already meagre salaries were quickly eroded by inflation. Interpreters 
who worked for the Infantry Training Centre in Kunming once tried to call a 
strike to demand higher pay However, they were no match for the Chinese army 
colonel in charge of the centres interpreter affairs, who issued ammunition to a 
platoon of soldiers, assigned them to guard the interpreters' barracks and gave 
them orders to shoot anyone leaving. When the interpreters sent word the next 
day that they were willing to negotiate, he had them brought to his office under 
armed escort, placed a loaded pistol and a prepared statement on his desk, and 
ordered them to sign the statement which said that they were satisfied with 
their wages. The interpreters capitulated and news of the pre-empted strike was 
blacked out by the authorities. 

Our conditions improved once the Burma Campaign began. Our pay was 
increased, we were issued much better quality American uniforms, and we 
ate the tastier and more nutritious US army rations. We also shared in all the 
facilities and benefits that our American colleagues enjoyed. American soldiers 
were called GIs (for "Government Issue 1 ') because everything they consumed or 
used was issued by the US government, and FAB interpreters were in much the 
same position. We discarded our Chinese uniforms and captain insignia, and 
became quasi-GIs. Although I was glad to see the marked improvement in our 
living conditions, I felt somewhat uneasy about the change, as if we had traded 
national dignity for material well-being. 

Ironically, the fact that we were kitted out like the Americans did not mean 
that we were protected better than the Chinese soldiers once we entered the 
battlefield. As we found out during the Burma Campaign, Japanese soldiers 
hated the Americans more than the Chinese, and anyone wearing US army 
uniform would be their target of first choice. Quite a few of our interpreter 
comrades were killed by Japanese snipers hiding deep in the jungle. 

Baptism by Fire 55 

The Burma Campaign 

I was dispatched to the FAB in December 1943, and my first assignment as an 
FAB interpreter was to work with US army instructors at the Motor School at 
Qujing where cadres of the Y-force Motor Transportation Corps were trained. 
Qujing was an important city where the road networks around Kunming, the 
capital of Yunnan Province, connected with those around Guiyang, the capital 
of Guizhou Province. The school used the grounds and buildings of a former 
army barracks. On either side of the main gate was a long couplet exhorting the 
Chinese Army: 

Join the war of resistance and build up our nation. To build our nation, 
we must first build our army. The building of our army starts here. 

Vanquish our enemies and achieve our goals. To achieve our goals, it is 
important to follow a virtuous path. With virtues on our side we will be 

I was joined by three other interpreters from Hong Kong and a dozen 
interpreters who were third- or fourth-year mechanical engineering students 
from mainland universities. The training facilities at the school were at first 
appalling. Only two-thirds of the thirty Ford two-and-a-half-ton trucks of 
1930 vintage could be used to train drivers; the others had been dismantled 
so that their components (chassis, engines, transmissions, clutches, axles, 
wheels, brakes etc.) could be used for teaching. Later, thanks to US aid under 
the Lend-Lease Act, the school received new vehicles and motor parts, and we 
were delighted to see Chinese soldiers driving some of the latest-model jeeps, 
weapon carriers and trucks. 

When I started work in the Motor School, the campaign to re-open the 
Burma Road was already underway During the Cairo Conference in November 
1943, Allied leaders originally agreed to start the Burma Campaign in the spring 
of 1944, but Stilwell insisted that the campaign could not be delayed further 
for strategic reasons. He obtained the assurance of Chiang Kai-shek that the 
Chinese divisions of the X-force in India were "his" army to command "free of 
interference". He had hoped to open a land route to China with this force and 
eventually meet with US forces on the China coast. 

The campaign was launched in December 1943 when the X-force (named 
the New First Army), which had three divisions of twelve thousand men each, 
crossed the India-Burma border into Upper Burma, followed by the Ledo Road 
construction team comprising fifty thousand soldiers of the US Army engineer 
corps and thirty thousand Chinese and Indian coolies. In early 1944, two more 
divisions were merged with the existing divisions of the X-force, which was 
then split into the New First Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Sun 

56 The Dragon and the Crown 

Li-jen, and the New Sixth Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Liao Yao- 

One of the prime objectives of Stilwell's war plan was to capture Myitkyina, 
Japan's northernmost major garrison and air base in Burma. From there the 
troops would follow a road that led southwards to the old Burma Road at Bhamo, 
and then eastwards to the border with China. As the troops advanced through 
northern Burma, not only did they meet with heavy Japanese resistance but they 
had to brave the suffocating heat and unrelenting rain of the tropical forests and 
mountains. Diseases and casualties were rampant. 

In April 1944, the Chinese Expeditionary Force (Y-force), under orders 
from the Chief of Staff of the Chinese Army, began its westward advance for 
its rendezvous with the X-force. Although the training of Y-force soldiers was 
not yet complete, General Wei Li-huang was able to amass some two hundred 
thousand troops (divided into the 11th Group Army and the 20th Group Army) 
and equip them with modern American weapons to carry out the mission. 
Known as "Hundred Victories Wei", he was assisted by two chiefs of staff — one 
American and the other Chinese. At the same time, the Allies had reinforced 
their air force and gained command of the air not only in combat strength but 
also in the ability to supply and support ground troops, which was an essential 
part of the Burma Campaign. 

In order to join with Stilwell's armies, the Y-force had to regain control 
over the part of western Yunnan that had fallen into Japanese hands in 1942. 
To do so, General Wei's armies needed to cross the Salween River and capture 
the two strategic cities of Longling and Tengchong. The first major hurdle was 
to get the troops across the river because, when remnants of the earlier Chinese 
Expeditionary Force retreated to Chinese territory from Burma in 1942, they had 
destroyed the bridge to stop the Japanese advance. The Chinese call the Salween 
River Nu Jiang (Angry River) because, as it flows from Tibet through Yunnan 
to Burma, the river is noted for its spectacular steep gorges, rapid currents and 
hazardous whirlpools. 

When 1 first heard about the plan to cross Nu Jiang, I immediately thought 
about the legendary crossing of the river (then called Lu Shui) in the famous 
historical novel Romance oj the Three Kingdoms when troops from the Shu 
Kingdom under Zhuge Liang marched south to "pacify" ethnic minority tribes 
in Yunnan and Guizhou. To my amazement, some sixteen centuries after Zhuge 
Liang, General Wei led the Y-force successfully across the river on 11 May 1944, 
under the cover of night and stormy weather. His advance troops crossed the 
roaring waters on bamboo rafts and rubber boats, and constructed a pontoon 
bridge across the river. The next day, some thirty-two thousand men made the 
crossing together with thousands of pack horses, cows, mules and transport 
coolies. Then, scaling the formidable incline of the surrounding gorges in the 

Baptism by Fire 57 

pouring rain, the troops emerged from the cold, cloud-covered mountains 
before the Japanese even knew of their presence. 

The 11th Group Army took Longling on June 10, but was driven out by a 
determined Japanese counterattack a week later. The forces were re-assembled 
for another attempt and regained Longling two months later, but it took the 20th 
Group Army four months of bitter fighting to recover Tengchong. Possession 
of both cities was essential to open the passage from Burma to China and 
permitted Stilwell's troops to begin their advance from Myitkyina. To reach the 
Japanese strongholds, the Chinese troops had to scale the mountains and gorges 
around the Nu Jiang and fight in some of the highest battlegrounds in the world. 
The Chinese ground forces outnumbered the Japanese by about ten to one, 
and American warplanes controlled the sky over Yunnan and Burma, but the 
twenty thousand odd Japanese troops in western Yunnan were well protected 
by the rugged terrain, solid bunkers and underground tunnels. It took massive 
artillery shelling and bombing to destroy the fortifications and, in the final 
assault, Chinese soldiers had to use hand-grenades and flame-throwers against 
enemy soldiers in hiding. In November, more than five months after the first 
Nu Jiang crossing, Y-force was finally able to wipe out the Japanese presence in 
western Yunnan. 

The Qujing Motor School closed down when the Yunnan force began 
its westward offensive, and I was transferred with its instructors and other 
interpreters to the Motor Transport Command (MTC) of the Service of Supplies 
Department of Y-force. The headquarters of the MTC was stationed in the city of 
Xiaguan on the Chinese section of the Yunnan-Burma Highway, midway between 
Kunming and Longling. Some seven thousand feet above sea level, Xiaguan was 
an ideal stopover station for truckers and travellers. With the snow-covered 
peaks of Cangshan and the expanses of Erhai Lake in the background, Xiaguan 
and its surrounding areas were full of legends and ruins from Zhuge Liang's 
southward expedition, and I often thought about scenes from Romance of the 
Three Kingdoms as I worked there. 

As Xiaguan was a very small city, the offices and dormitories of MTC personnel, 
motor repair shops, supply depots and fuel tanks were all housed in tents outside 
the city walls, and MTC Headquarters was nicknamed "Tent City". Instructors and 
interpreters transferred from the Qujing Motor School worked under the MTCs 
principal US liaison officer. He was a mechanical engineer, and the majority of 
the liaison officers under his command had engineering backgrounds; even the 
interpreters were mostly engineering students. I was fortunate to have acquired 
some knowledge of automobiles while working in Uncle Leung's auto accessories 
shop in Liuzhou. MTC interpreters had various assignments; some, like me, were 
attached to the headquarters, while others worked with US liaison officers in Y- 
force motor transportation regiments or battalions. 

58 The Dragon and the Crown 

Those who worked in the headquarters sometimes took inspection tours 
along the Yunnan-Burma Highway with US liaison officers, and 1 made several 
trips between Xiaguan and Longling with Captain Stevenson. Young, tall and 
handsome, the captain was friendly, approachable and, like most American 
servicemen I met during the war, had a pleasant and informal relationship with 
his Chinese colleagues. We addressed each by our first names, and talked about 
a wide range of topics from family matters to current affairs. This experience 
was very different from my later encounters with the British in Hong Kong, who 
often tended to be formal and sometimes condescending. 

Together with Captain Stevenson 1 made some of my most memorable trips, 
initially reminiscent of my bus ride two years earlier and the charcoal-burning 
trucks on the Yulin-Liuzhou Highway However, the situation had changed and 
petrol-burning army trucks and jeeps dominated the roads. The scars of war 
were still evident between Xiaguan and Longling. To the retreating Chinese 
armies in 1942, this twisting stretch of the Burma Road was known as "death 
alley", and we saw the rusted hulks of countless abandoned army vehicles and 
artillery pieces, as well as the skeletons of soldiers, horses and mules. It was a 
terrible sight but, thanks to the Chinese and American engineers, bulldozers and 
other equipment were already at work and the battered highway was gradually 
being repaired. 

Our assignment was to examine road conditions and inspect ammunition 
depots, filling stations and various military installations along the highway. We 
also monitored the many convoys of trucks to make sure that the flow of army 
reinforcements and military supplies to the front was continuous. Fortunately 
the successful landing of the Y-force spearhead on the west bank of Nu Jiang in 
May and the construction of the pontoon bridge had ensured that troops and 
supplies could now be transported smoothly. 

We drove mostly on high ground with spectacular overviews of winding 
rivers and deep valleys. In my first journey to the Salween Valley, in mid August, 
we followed the edge of a cliff that overlooked the Nu Jiang thousands of feet 
below. The view of the river tearing through the narrow and almost vertical 
mountain gorges was breathtaking. To cross the river we drove downhill along 
a seemingly endless zigzag path, crossed the pontoon bridge, and then took 
another zigzag path uphill. The journey took more than half a day to complete, 
and when we finally entered the city of Longling we were greeted by cheering 
Chinese soldiers and civilians who raised their hands, gave us the thumbs-up 
sign and shouted "ding hao" (very good), "hello" and "okay". It was a truly 
moving scene; I was totally exhilarated and felt, for the first time, that victory 
might be in sight. 

By April 1944, the tide of war had turned against Japan: its defences in 
Burma were crumbling, its navy and air force had suffered fatal defeats in the 

Baptism by Fire 59 

Pacific, and US forces were advancing toward the China coast. However, the 
Japanese were not ready to let go of China easily. They launched a new offensive 
to consolidate control over a strategic north-south corridor across the country 
and, by November, they had taken all the major cities along the Beijing-Wuhan 
and Wuhan-Guangzhou railways and advanced into Hunan and Guangxi. The 
Z-force, based in Guilin, disintegrated in the face of the Japanese offensive, and 
US army liaison officers and FAB interpreters were evacuated to Kunming. After 
overrunning Hunan and Guangxi, the Japanese advanced to Dushan, a city on 
the southern border of Guizhou. With the enemy so close to its wartime capital, 
Chongqing, the Nationalist government considered moving out of the city, but 
fortunately this did not become necessary as the Japanese army retreated in 

In response to the Japanese offensive, the US had asked Chiang Kai-shek to 
use Chinese Communist troops to fight the Japanese and to appoint Stilwell the 
field commander of all of China's land forces, but Chiang rejected both requests. 
With the growing distrust between Stilwell and Chiang, the US government 
decided to replace Stilwell so as to save the face of the Chinese leader and 
support the joint war effort. Stilwell was recalled to the United States in October 

1944 and the theatre of war was divided into two: the Burma-India Theatre and 
the China Theatre. Lieutenant General Albert Wedemeyer was named Chiang 
Kai-sheks chief of staff and commander of American forces in China, but his 
position essentially meant that he was unable to command Chinese troops 
without Chiangs consent. 

In the meantime, the battle to re-open the Burma Road was drawing to a 
close. X-force and Y-force (still commanded by General Wei Li-huang) met at 
the China-Burma border in January 1945. The Ledo Road joined the old Burma 
Road at Bhamo, and was officially opened for through traffic on 25 January 1945. 
By that time, my service in the Motor Transport Command had already come 
to an end and I was back in Kunming waiting for a new assignment. Together 
with thousands of jubilant Kunming citizens, I witnessed history being made 
as the first convoy over the completed road entered the city. The bloody Burma 
Campaign was finally over. 

China's Miserable Victory 

After its defeat in Hunan and Guangxi, the Chinese army was re-organized 
according to Wedemeyer's plan and a new fighting force was formed in spring 

1945 to replace Z-force. Units of the new fighting force were trained in Yunnan, 
Guizhou, Guangxi and western Hunan. 

After the Burma Campaign ended, Hunan became the major battlefield of 
the Anti-Japanese War. Since the 24th Group Army (under the command of 

60 The Dragon and the Crown 

General Wang Yao-wu) formed the backbone of Chinese forces in this area, its 
training and equipment became a priority in Wedemeyer's war plan. In order to 
increase the firepower of the 24th Group Army plans were made to equip each 
of its divisions with an artillery battalion and, as training started in earnest, I was 
assigned to the Kunming Field Artillery Training Centre in February 1945. My 
job was to help American instructors train artillery cadres of the 18th Division 
of the 18th Army under General Wang. My American colleagues included a 
lieutenant colonel, a captain, a first lieutenant, a master sergeant and a sergeant. 
The first lieutenant was a Chinese-American, the sergeant was a Japanese- 
American, and both of them spoke the languages of their forefathers. When our 
training was completed, my American colleagues and I formed a liaison team 
for the newly formed artillery battalion of the 18th Division. 

American-made howitzers were widely used by Chinese forces in the hilly 
terrain of Burma and southwest and central China because of the steep angles 
of their trajectories, and our training had focused on the 75-mm pack howitzer 
which could be towed by a small truck, or disassembled and carried in several 
loads on the backs of mules. Equipped with twelve 75-mm pack howitzers (four 
for each of its three batteries), the 18th Division Artillery Battalion left Kunming 
for Hunan in July and was deployed at strategic points around Zhijiang, an 
important military base on the western Hunan front. We waited for orders from 
division headquarters to fire our first salvo as the infantry moved forward to 
attack the enemy, but by then the Japanese troops in Hunan had been diverted 
to the coast in east China in anticipation of a possible US landing, and we never 
saw any action. 

The war came to a sudden end in August 1945 after the US dropped atomic 
bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On 9 August, the Soviet Union declared 
war on Japan, and on 14 August Emperor Hirohito issued a decree ordering 
all Japanese troops to lay down their arms. On 2 September, Japan officially 
surrendered to the Allied nations on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. 

When the commander of Japanese forces in China officially surrendered 
in Nanjing on 9 September, Chinas eight-year-long Anti-Japanese War finally 
came to an end. Now the most urgent task facing the Nationalist forces was to 
take over the weapons, ammunition, and military supplies surrendered by the 
Japanese in the various war zones, and American advice was needed to expedite 
this process. I joined a US liaison team assigned to advise General Hsueh Yueh, 
commanding the Ninth War Zone, on matters relating to the takeover. Our team 
consisted of Lieutenant Colonel Caldwell, a former advisor to the commander 
of the 18th Division Artillery Battalion, and two interpreters — a Japanese- 
American sergeant and me — so we had plenty of ability as far as languages 
were concerned. We flew from Zhijiang to the headquarters of the Ninth War 
Zone in Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi Province, and on landing we were greeted 

Baptism by Fire 61 

by General Hsueh's adjutant. After a night in a guest house, we had a cordial 
meeting the next morning with General Hsueh and, to my surprise, I did not 
have to speak to him in Mandarin since he and many of his staff were natives of 
Guangdong Province and we could talk freely in Cantonese. 

Guided by Ninth War Zone officers, we inspected Japanese military 
installations in the suburbs of Nanchang and in Jiujiang, an important port 
along the Yangtze River in northern Jiangxi. We observed as Chinese officers 
took inventory of weapons, ammunition, vehicles and others types of military 
equipment that had been handed over by the Japanese army We also watched 
Japanese prisoners of war being herded into internment camps and, with the 
help of the Japanese-American sergeant, we were able to interview some of the 
prisoners. 1 had always thought that Japanese soldiers were bloodthirsty killers 
whom 1 could never forgive for the crimes they had committed against Chinese 
civilians during the war. But I was intrigued and moved by the behaviour of 
the prisoners in Nanchang and Jiujiang who were disciplined, humble and 
obedient. After this experience, I had a reluctant respect for the Japanese and 
was not too surprised when Japan re-emerged as an economic power two 
decades later. 

With the end of the war, my commission as an interpreting officer also 
came to an end. After completing my Jiangxi mission, I returned to Kunming in 
October to pick up a letter signed by the Assistant Adjutant General of United 
States Force Headquarters, China Theatre. It read: 

On the termination of your duty as an Interpreting Officer with the 
United States Forces in China, the Commanding General, United States 
Forces in China desires to thank you for a splendid job well done. 
Without Interpreting Officers the mission of the United States Forces in 
China would have been seriously hampered. The hard work done by the 
Interpreting Officers has materially aided in accomplishing this mission, 
and has helped to cement friendly relations between the peoples of the 
United States and China. It is hoped that you will continue your good 
work in the future as in the past, and help to build China into the great 
nation it deserves to be. 

I now had the chance to think about my future. Demobilized interpreters 
were faced with several prospects. The first was to study in the United States. All 
FAB interpreters were supposedly given this opportunity provided that they could 
pass an examination held by the Ministry of Education for this purpose, but this 
proved to be a sham and only the children, relatives and friends of high-ranking 
government officials were allowed to go abroad. The second opportunity was to 
continue one's undergraduate education in a Chinese university with the help of 
government scholarships. Lastly, those who had already entered the workforce 
were given preference when applying for jobs in US government agencies and 

62 The Dragon and the Crown 

United Nations organizations in China. Many demobilized interpreters became 
employees of the US Embassy in Nanjing or US consulates in Shanghai and 
Guangzhou, and quite a number worked in major cities for offices of the United 
Nations Rehabilitation and Relief Administration (UNRRA). 

I decided to go back home, however, as did most of the FAB interpreters 
from Hong Kong. After our discharge in Kunming, a group of us boarded (free 
of charge) a US C-47 transport plane for Liuzhou, from where we took a bus to 
Wuzhou, sailed down the West River on a flat-bottom river junk to Guangzhou, 
and took the Kowloon-Canton Railway train to Hong Kong. Many of my 
colleagues resumed their pre-war posts in government departments, banks and 
commercial firms, while others took new jobs or started their own business 

In the meantime, the conflict between Nationalist and Communist forces 
erupted into the open on the Mainland. In January 1946, General George C. 
Marshall, a special envoy of the US President, came to China to mediate between 
the two parties, and on 25 February, he worked out an agreement to bring peace 
to China by merging and consolidating the Nationalist and the Communist 
armies. Unfortunately, this agreement was undone within a very short time 
because of the deep hostility and distrust between the two parties and their 
conflicting political agendas. Fighting broke out in the spring and the US again 
took the side of the Nationalist government, to which it extended military aid. 

With the renewed involvement of the US, interpreters were again needed, 
first to carry out Marshall's peace plan and later to help the US Army transport 
Nationalist troops to fight the Communists. Since I was unemployed after 
returning to Hong Kong, I registered with the Troop Movement Group of 
the US Army headquartered in Guangzhou, and so did some of my old FAB 
interpreter comrades. I was assigned to work with a US army liaison officer on 
board a US navy landing ship. Known as an LST (Landing Ship Tank), it had 
a displacement of over three thosuand tons and a bow fitted with watertight 
doors that would open only when the ship hit the beach, allowing tanks, trucks 
and troops to disembark. From February to May 1946, division after division of 
Nationalist troops in southern China moved into Hong Kong to board US navy 
landing ships that would carry them to Qinhuangdao, the seaport nearest to the 
Shanhaiguan pass — the gateway to the Northeast. Once the Nationalist troops 
passed through Shanhaiguan they would come face-to-face with Communist 
troops. I made several return voyages between Hong Kong and Qinhuangdao. 
At first, life on board a US navy landing ship sailing along the China coast was 
exciting, but I began to feel guilty about helping my countrymen kill each other 
and decided to stop working on the LST. 

Despite military and financial assistance from the US, Nationalist forces soon 
started to lose ground in the civil war. Although it had won the Anti-Japanese 

Baptism by Fire 63 

War, the government failed to rally the support of the people because of its 
own corruption and incompetence. I saw widespread discontent in Guangzhou 
when I stopped there on my way back to Hong Kong in November 1945. The 
people of Guangzhou had originally welcomed the New First Army which 
had come to liberate the city with fire crackers and lion dances, but now they 
were disillusioned and called it the "New Japanese Army". Besides disarming 
Japanese troops and taking over stocks of enemy weapons and supplies, arrogant 
officers and rapacious soldiers enriched themselves by confiscating the goods 
and properties of the local people at will. They also prosecuted many innocent 
Guangzhou residents as "enemy collaborators" and so, despite its outstanding 
record in Burma, the New First Army lost its reputation and all its goodwill with 
the people. 

In the meantime, Chinas economic conditions continued to deteriorate. 
The mismanagement of the economy by the Nationalist government caused 
rampant inflation, and corruption made matters even worse. Government and 
military officials stole property and equipment handed over by the Japanese, 
and misappropriated relief funds, goods and materiel provided by the US and 
UNRRA. Many of the stolen goods ended up in the black market, where poverty- 
stricken civilians had to buy them at exorbitant prices. The standard of living 
for the ordinary Chinese continued to fall, and many people became destitute. 

Most devastating of all was the full-scale war between the Nationalists and 
the Communists during 1946-49, in which hundreds of thousands of soldiers 
from both sides were wounded or killed on the battlefields. Even though we had 
won the Anti-Japanese War after tremendous sacrifices, a unified, prosperous 
and strong China seemed nowhere in sight. I started to question the meaning of 

Hong Kong after the War 


On 30 August 1945, the British Pacific Fleet under Rear Admiral Cecil Harcourt 
dropped anchor in Victoria Harbour, one day before Chiang Kai-shek ordered 
his 13th Army to march towards Hong Kong and reclaim the former British 
colony. The Japanese garrison offered no resistance and British marines soon 
took over all the strategic points on Hong Kong Island, and in Kowloon and the 
New Territories. The British established an interim government in the war-torn 
territory, freeing expatriate soldiers and civilians interned during the Japanese 
occupation, and rounding up Japanese soldiers for repatriation. Preoccupied 
with the civil war and giving in to pressure from Britain's ally, the United States, 
whose support it needed, the Nationalist government decided not to protest. If 
Chiang Kai-shek had insisted on reclaiming the territory, the history of Hong 
Kong would have been different. 

On 19 September, the Japanese forces in Hong Kong formally surrendered 
to the British at Government House, the residence of successive colonial 
governors. The Royal Marine band dressed in Scottish kilts was assembled on 
the lawn with its instruments, and hundreds of British marine commandos in 
green berets stood in formation. Inside, Vice Admiral Ruitaro Fujita and Major 
General Umekichi Okada stood behind a small table bearing writing brushes 
and an ink slab. Rear Admiral Harcourt read the surrender document. Watched 
by military observers from the United States, China and Canada, the Japanese 
officers signed the document, handed over their swords, bowed stiffly from the 
waist, and were marched away. The band on the lawn struck up "God Save the 
King" and a seaman slowly hoisted the Union Jack to the top of the flag post. 
Simultaneously, the warships in Victoria Harbour fired thundering triumphal 
salutes and the Fleet Air Arm squadron roared overhead at low altitude. 

When the Chinese troops arrived in Hong Kong, after the British forces had 
landed, there was not much for them to do. Awaiting orders, they camped in 

66 The Dragon and the Crown 

Kowloon Tong just north of Boundary Street — the dividing line between the 
leased New Territories and the ceded areas of Kowloon Peninsula and Hong 
Kong Island. Kowloon Tong was an upper-income residential district and the 
soldiers took over many of the large mansions that had been vacated during the 
Japanese occupation. Since they had no official duties to perform and there was 
no agreement between the Chinese and British military authorities to confine 
them to their camps, the soldiers started to roam the streets to kill time. Hong 
Kong was excited at first about the arrival of the Chinese troops, but quickly 
became disillusioned by their arrogance and lack of discipline. When I returned 
to Hong Kong in November, 1 heard stories about the soldiers bullying local 
people and getting into fistfights with British sailors and marines. Chinese army 
vehicles defied traffic regulations, and a junior officer caught shoplifting in an 
Indian shop in Central was arrested and sent to jail. The Hong Kong people 
welcomed the Chinese troops as heroes when they first arrived, but saw them 
off with relief when they were recalled to China towards the end of 1945. 

The irony of these events was not lost on those of us who had looked 
forward to Hong Kong's return to the motherland, and beneath our jubilation 
at the ending of the war lay a lingering tug of disappointment. The British later 
proclaimed 30 August as Hong Kong's Liberation Day, an annual holiday. 

Home Sweet Home 

As our elation subsided, the hard reality of rebuilding our home in a devastated 
economy started to sink in. Our family had splintered during the war: Tse 
Kwong and I left home soon after the Japanese occupation; after Father died 
(in 1943) Mother and Yuan Kwong went to Babu in Guangxi to stay with Aunt 
Rose; Man Kwong was the only one in our family who remained in Hong Kong 
throughout the hostilities, and he had to struggle to make ends meet. 

Man Kwong's studies at Lingnan University were abruptly terminated when 
the Japanese invaded in 1941, and he had to support the family as Father's health 
rapidly deteriorated. Tall and handsome, Man Kwong was groomed to become 
the head of the family. His education in elite schools, Pui Ching and Lingnan, 
gave him a broad perspective, a solid personal network and good preparation 
for the business world. As the eldest son, Man Kwong was pampered by Mother 
and Father, not to mention Poll Poll (our maternal grandmother) who financed 
his education and showered him with gifts. Among the brothers, he was always 
the first to wear fine clothes, eat at expensive restaurants and enjoy the luxuries 
of life, and as he was always away from home as a boarding student he never 
had to do any work around the house. Unlike me, who had a very Westernized 
schooling at King's College, Man Kwong was educated in Chinese and was well 
versed in Chinese history and literature. 

Hong Kong after the War 67 

During the Japanese occupation, Man Kwong worked at Ming On, the 
edible oil dealership owned by Uncle Wai Chow. Knowing the firms connection 
to Chan Lim Pak, who had collaborated with the Japanese, and remembering 
Fathers unhappy experience working under Uncle, Man Kwong was at first 
reluctant to work there. However, jobs were hard to come by during the 
occupation, so he reluctantly took up a marketing and sales position at Ming 
On. As soon he had learned enough about the edible oil business, he left and 
set up his own shop — Tin Sang Edible Oil — in partnership with a Pui Ching 
classmate, Chan Chark Tong. By that time, Chan Lim Pak had died and his 
edible oil monopoly had disintegrated, so Tin Sang was able to buy and sell oil 
in the open market. 

As the war drew to an end, business was slow and Tin Sang hardly made 
any profit, so to save money Man Kwong initially used Tin Sangs shop space 
on Wing Lok Street as both his office and living quarters. When Mother, Tse 
Kwong, Yuan Kwong and 1 made our separate ways back to Hong Kong after 
the war, Man Kwong had to find a place for us to stay, as well as other sources 
of income to support the family. He started an import-export business with 
another Pui Ching schoolmate, Hui Ka Wing, and his Eurasian friend William 
Shea, hoping to tap the strong demand for imported goods after the war. To 
attract foreign customers, they named the firm William & Co. With little capital, 
the company could afford to set up office only on the third floor of an old four- 
storey tenement house at 254 Des Voeux Road Central in Sheung Wan. 

The premises were not designed for residential use, but Hui and Shea agreed 
to let Man Kwong use the back of the office as our family residence and, after 
some basic renovation work, we set up home in the rear section of the premises. 
Even though our living quarters were cramped and makeshift, we felt fortunate 
to have a roof over our heads considering the dire shortage of housing in Hong 
Kong after the war. The third floor of 254 Des Voeux Road Central was the last 
place where we lived together as a family. 

Given the lack of living space, we had only the most basic furniture: a 
spring mattress bed for Mother, a small wardrobe, a dresser and a round table 
with five chairs. To maximize our living space, all my brothers and I slept on 
canvas cots which were folded up and stored underneath Mother's bed during 
the daytime. With the exception of Mother, we all had to go to bed late and get 
up early since the cots had to be set up at night and folded up in the morning. 

The office had four desks grouped in pairs. One was for the office manager, 
Mr. Chiu, who was a retired shipping clerk in his late fifties; he had worked 
for American President Lines before the war and was familiar with import and 
export documentation. The other three desks were reserved for Man Kwong, 
Hui and Shea. Only Chius desk had a telephone, but we were allowed to use it 
when we had to make an urgent call, or if someone called us from outside stating 

68 The Dragon and the Crown 

that the call was important. In the evenings and on Sundays and holidays, we 
had free use of the desks for reading and writing. 

Our kitchen had only the barest installations: a concrete sink shaped like 
a tray to catch tap water, a flat concrete slab used as a counter, and two round 
firewood stoves made of baked clay on top of a concrete bench. Dirty water 
from the sink drained through a metal pipe to an open gutter at the edge of 
the wall. Our cooking utensils were stored on a rack below the counter and 
firewood was piled up underneath the bench. Since there was no chimney 
smoke from burning firewood and vapour from the frying pan were let out of 
the room through a small ventilating fan fixed on the window. But the fan was 
not effective, and our kitchen ceiling and walls quickly became greasy and then 
turned black as time went by. During April and May when the humidity was 
high, we could see grease dripping from the ceiling and walls. To keep our food 
and utensils clean, we put them in a gauze cage the size of a small cabinet, with 
fresh vegetables, meat and fish on the upper shelves, and chinaware and dried 
foodstuffs on the lower ones. Refrigerators were not common then, and all the 
meat and fish had to be consumed within one or two days. 

A small brick wall with a flimsy wooden door separated our kitchen from 
the latrine, which was no more than a trench holding an oblong metal trough 
which we covered with a wooden lid. For hygienic reasons and to dampen the 
smell we poured Lysol into the trough regularly and every night, before going 
to bed, we would put the trough outside the door on the stairway for the "night 
soil" collectors. We bathed on the floor space in front of the kitchen sink and 
the counter, a process that could be very time consuming and cumbersome. We 
would fill a big wooden basin with water from the tap, place it on the counter, 
and pour water over ourselves with a small wooden bucket. Piped hot water was 
unheard of in the neighbourhood, so when the weather turned cold we would 
have to first boil hot water in a kettle and then mix it with cold water in the 
wooden basin. 

Despite the hardships, we were grateful to have a place to stay. Before the 
Japanese invasion Hong Kong had a population of about 1.6 million, which 
dropped to around 600,000 at the time of Japans surrender, but rose again to 
about one million at the end of 1945. The war had destroyed an untold number 
of buildings in Hong Kong, so an acute housing shortfall allowed landlords to 
charge exorbitant rentals. In an attempt to alleviate the problem, in 1947 the 
colonial government introduced the Landlord and Tenant Ordinance which 
placed all pre-war buildings under tight rent control, but landlords would 
get around the restrictions by collecting a sum of money upfront from the 
tenant before giving him the key to the leased premises and charging him 
the "controlled" rent. Those who were desperate for space and could afford 
it were willing to pay this premium, the so-called "key money", for which no 

Hong Kong after the War 69 

receipt was required since it was not governed by the ordinance. Moreover, 
if the tenant had to go through a middleman he would have to pay him a 
commission, commonly known as "shoe money" as the middleman usually 
had to walk to and fro between the prospective tenant and the landlord in 
order to conclude the deal. There was no legal requirement for a receipt for 
the payment of "shoe money" either. We were in no position to pay "key 
money" or "shoe money", and we might well have been homeless had Man 
Kwong not started up William & Co. and secured the office space in which 
the family could live. 

Despite the cramped living quarters, we were happy to be together again. 
We missed Father, but we felt fortunate that the rest of us had survived the war 
and we were determined to rebuild a normal life. Man Kwong worked long 
hours at his businesses, but the economy was still recovering from the war and 
he was barely able to make ends meet. To help with household expenses, both 
Tse Kwong and I looked for work. Yuan Kwong, who was only fourteen, went 
back to school, enrolling first at Lingnan Secondary School and later at LaSalle 
College. As none of us completed our formal education, we were happy that 
Yuan Kwong at least could continue his studies. 

With my wartime training and experience, I had little problem finding a 
job. 1 worked for a few months as a junior clerk in one of the government 
offices of the Colonial Secretariat. Then, hoping to leverage my experience 
working for the Americans during the war, and remembering Father's wishes 
for me to enter banking, 1 wrote to the First National City Bank of New York 
(now Citibank) on the off chance that they might have a job opening. To my 
surprise, I soon received a reply — not a job offer, but an introduction to a 
Mr. Cooper at Dodwell Motors Ltd. Dodwell Motors was part of a large British 
trading conglomerate — Dodwell & Company Ltd. — and distributed both 
British and American cars such as Morris, Chrysler and Dodge. Cooper, the 
general manager, was an American which probably explained why 1 obtained 
the introduction and managed to secure a position as his secretary. 

Tse Kwong joined Aunt Rose and Uncle Leung's auto accessories company, 
Kung Lee, which had re-started its operations in Hong Kong. Tse Kwong had 
to undertake a wide range of tasks at Kung Lee, from clerical and accounting 
work to unloading goods in the wharfs and delivering them. Like many other 
lower-level positions in Hong Kong at that time, the hours were long and the 
pay was meagre. Fortunately, Tse Kwong had the strongest physique among us 
and was always very independent and self-reliant. At home he would do most 
of the housework, such as sweeping the floor, wiping the walls and chopping 
firewood. 1 helped him whenever I could, but I was slim and had the smallest 
build among all my brothers. As I was also the only one who wore glasses, 
Mother was very surprised that I ended up in the army during the war. 

70 The Dragon and the Crown 

Despite our frugal living conditions during those early post-war years, we 
managed to enjoy life together as a family: Mother kept house, Man Kwong 
tended to his businesses, Tse Kwong and I were able to support ourselves, and 
Yuan Kwong continued with his studies. Although Hong Kong's economy was 
still recovering and the civil war raged on in the Mainland, we were contented 
with our lives and could have continued to live in peace. But soon, the political 
situation in China took a sharp turn; Hong Kong was swept up in its throes, and 
our family was engulfed with it. 

Joining the Revolution 

By 1948, it had become increasingly clear that the Chinese Communist Party 
(CCP) was winning the civil war. Although Hong Kong was not directly involved 
in the war, the presence of the CCP was growing in the colony. The CCP had 
pursued a United Front strategy during the Anti-Japanese War, forging alliances 
with people of all parties, factions, classes and walks of life and even, for a 
period, joining forces with the Nationalist government against the Japanese. 
This strategy gained it support among the students and intellectuals who had 
grown increasingly disillusioned with the Nationalist government. 

After the war, the CCP continued to pursue its United Front strategy in 
the fight against the Nationalists, and tried to appeal to a wide range of people 
by promising social and economic justice and a more democratic society. Its 
message was particularly well received among students, intellectuals and all 
those who were critical of the corruption, incompetence and autocratic rule of 
the Nationalist government. In search of an alternative path to building a strong, 
more equitable China, many people read Mao Zedongs writings (such as On 
New Democracy) and thought that they had found the answer in the Communist 

In this environment Hong Kong became an important centre for the 
CCPs United Front work after the war. Many intellectuals from the Mainland, 
including journalists, academics, writers and artists, had taken refuge in the 
colony to escape the Japanese invasion and, for some, persecution by the 
. Nationalist government. The famed educator Cai Yuanpei and writers \u 
Dishan and Xiao Hong lived in Hong Kong for a period but died before the 
war ended; others who stayed in the colony during the civil war included well- 
known writers Mao Dun and Xia Yan, renowned scholars Liang Shuming and 
Guo Morou, and the prominent journalist Xiao Qian. With the presence of such 
literary and scholastic talents, many magazines, newspapers, cultural centres 
and educational facilities sprang up in Hong Kong after the war. Quite a number 
of these publications and institutions reported to the CCP, however, and they 
often invited well-known writers and artists who were either sympathetic to or 

Hong Kong after the War 71 

affiliated with the CCP to join, hoping to attract a wide audience for the party's 
United Front and recruitment activities. 

In early 1948 Tse Kwong joined such an institution — the Chung Wah 
Music Academy Under Man Kwongs influence, he had developed a passion for 
Western classical music and wanted to study music theory and composition 
under Ma Sicong, an internationally known violinist and composer, who 
headed the academy. (Ma later returned to China in 1950 to head up the Central 
Conservatory in Beijing, but left the country for the US in 1967, at the start of 
the Cultural Revolution.) Mas presence at Chung Wah at that time attracted 
many music lovers, including Tse Kwong, to the school, but the academy was 
actually a fringe organization of the Cultural Committee of the underground 
Communist Party. 

Tse Kwong began to stay at Chung Wah later and later each evening, and 
at first we thought that he was just catching up with his lessons and friends. 
Then he told us that teachers and students at the academy had formed "study 
groups" and he would be staying late on a regular basis to attend their meetings. 
Tse Kwong was active and well liked, and quickly became the president of the 
student union. Although he completed only three years of secondary school, 
Tse Kwong read avidly and became very proficient in written Chinese; he 
also possessed strong analytical abilities and was an extremely persuasive 

I became curious about what Tse Kwong did in his "study group". As we 
had always been very close, Tse Kwong had no reservations in telling me what 
they read and would even bring home some of the materials to show me, starting 
with newspaper articles and editorials. The newspapers they read most often 
were Hwa Sheung Po and Cheng Bao — which were both affiliated with the CCP 
Hwa Sheung Po, which boasted a star-studded list of editors and contributors, 
including many well-known writers and scholars from the Mainland, was 
particularly popular among young intellectuals. Later, Tse Kwong started 
bringing back books on philosophy, social development, communism and "New 
Democracy". He would share his readings and thoughts with me before we went 
to sleep, and under his influence my reading habits started to change. As well as 
my regular English newspapers and magazines such as the South China Morning 
Post and Time Magazine, I started to read Hwa Sheung Po and some of the books 
that Tse Kwong brought home. 

Tse Kwong had the least formal education among all the brothers and only 
completed Year Three at King's College. At that stage, Father could no longer 
afford the ten dollars a month that he had to pay for tuition at King's, so he took 
Tse Kwong out and enrolled him at the Junior Technical School at Morrison 
Hill which cost only three dollars a month. Tse Kwong learned carpentry and 
frequently had to work as an apprentice boat maker along the wharfs. 

72 The Dragon and the Crown 

"I had to interact daily with day labourers and coolies on the wharfs," he 
told me one night as we lay on our cots, "and that was when I first came into 
contact with people from lower-income groups." 

It was a hot summer night and neither of us could sleep. Since his cot was 
next to mine, we started whispering to each other and I asked him how he first 
became interested in socialist ideas. 

"I was struck by how hard life was for the labourers and how privileged 
we had been," he said. "Then when I went to Guangxi with Aunt Rose, I was 
shocked to see that so many people in the countryside were dirt poor. Many 
were starving and some could not even afford clothes for their children. I'm sure 
you saw that too." 

Tse Kwong left home at sixteen to follow Aunt Rose and Uncle Leung to 
Liuzhou, Guangxi soon after the start of the Japanese occupation, and later 
worked in Fook Lee (their auto accessories company). Business was good since 
auto parts were scarce during the war, but the company operated for only a few 
years. In 1944, the Nationalist army retreated from Guangxi as the Japanese army 
advanced towards Guilin and Liuzhou, the provinces major cities. The retreat 
was disorderly and as everyone in the two cities tried to flee many families were 
split up and lost contact. Aunt Rose and her son Nai Hei took refuge in Babu, 
a small city to the east of Liuzhou, where they were later joined by Mother and 
Yuan Kwong who came to live with them after Father passed away. 

Tse Kwong stayed with Uncle Leung. After selling his business, Uncle Leung 
acquired some gold bars which he wanted to sell in Guiyang, the capital of 
neighbouring Guizhou Province. Since bandits regularly roamed the Guizhou- 
Guangxi border and attacked trains at will, Uncle Leung did not dare to carry 
the gold with him on the train, so he asked Tse Kwong and another Fook Lee 
employee to take them to Guiyang for him. 

"We strapped the gold bars to our waists underneath our shirts," Tse Kwong 
said with a laugh. He still seemed to be thrilled by their bravado. "We then spent 
days travelling to Guiyang, catching rides on trucks whenever we could and 
spending our nights in the countryside." 

"Uncle Leung paid me a big bonus after he sold the gold bars," Tse Kwong 
said, and I could almost see his grin in the dark. 

Tse Kwong used the money to start up a bookstore in Liuzhou selling 
books and newspapers. Soon, he noticed that he was receiving an unusually 
large delivery of Xinhua Ribao (New China Daily) everyday, free of charge; this 
attracted his attention and he began to read the newspaper more closely. 

"The paper gave good up-to-date coverage of the war," he said, "but 1 \\ as 
also attracted by its editorials and commentaries which called for national unity 
against the Japanese and greater social justice. They often exposed the plight of 
the poor while criticizing the corruption of the Nationalist government." 

Hong Kong after the War 73 

"I really liked what they had to say," Tse Kwong said excitedly forgetting to 
keep his voice down. 

Xinhua Ribao was then run by the CCP out of Chongqing, the Nationalist 
government's wartime capital. The United Front formed between the Nationalists 
and the Communists during this period allowed the paper to be published and 
circulated in unoccupied areas. 

Tse Kwong used up all his money on the bookstore, and made his way 
back to Hong Kong as the war ended. He went to work again for Aunt Rose and 
Uncle Leung, who had also returned to Hong Kong, but managed to keep up his 
interests in socialist ideas. He was always eager to share his thoughts with me, 
and I was a sympathetic listener since 1 had experienced similar disappointments 
with the Nationalist government during the war. 1 too was shocked at the vast 
disparity of wealth on the Mainland, and could understand how Tse Kwong 

Tse Kwong participated enthusiastically in the activities of Chung Wah 
Music Academy. After he was elected student union president, he became imbued 
with a sense of mission and wanted to share his vision with his relatives and 
friends. He spoke with me often about his ideas and lost no time in involving 
our youngest brother, Yuan Kwong. One of Tse Kwong's friends from Chung 
Wah ran the Rainbow Chorus, another fringe organization of the underground 
CCR When the group started recruiting new members, targeting secondary 
school students, Tse Kwong introduced Yuan Kwong to his friend. 

Yuan Kwong had always been the dreamer of the family, and was often 
spoiled by Mother since he was the youngest child. Of all the brothers, he 
resembled Father most in his physique and facial features: tall and slim, with 
large, dark and deep-set eyes. Unlike Father, however, he was talkative and 
impulsive — an easy target for youth groups with a political agenda. 

Rainbow Chorus met almost nightly at Sham Shui Po in Kowloon. Yuan 
Kwong, then studying in La Salle College in Kowloon, was attracted by the 
chorus and its various activities. Every weekday he would first come home 
from La Salle and then, after dinner, take the ferry back to Kowloon to attend 
the Rainbow Chorus activities. It was a long journey but Yuan Kwong was an 
enthusiastic participant who soon joined the chorus' "study group" and became 
a regular reader of Hwa Sheung Po and other publications sympathetic to the 
Communist cause. 

Yuan Kwong's participation in the Rainbow Chorus was further encouraged 
by the activism of one of his close friends, Uncle Leung's nephew Leung Nai 
Ying. Yuan Kwong and Nai Hei (who were around twelve) and Nai Ying (who 
was one year older) were playmates when they lived in Babu, Guangxi during 
the war. After the war ended, Nai Ying followed Uncle Leung to Hong Kong, 
where he also worked at Kung Lee. Nai Ying soon became an active member 

74 The Dragon and the Crown 

of the Rainbow Chorus, left Kung Lee and devoted himself full time to the 
groups activities. His role in the Rainbow Chorus became so prominent that he 
caught the attention of the Royal Hong Kong Police Special Branch, the arm of 
the police dedicated to monitoring political activities. Nai Ying was not born 
in Hong Kong and, like many other active members of the underground party 
and its fringe organizations who were not Hong Kong citizens, he was arrested, 
charged and deported to the Mainland in mid- 1949. 

Although I did not belong to any formal organization, I attended lectures 
and concerts with Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong, and joined in many of their 
activities. Some of the most impressive talks 1 heard were by Qiao Guanhua 
— a brilliant journalist fluent in both German and English, with a German 
doctorate degree. His lectures on journalism and on political and economic 
developments in China and the world captured the hearts and minds of many 
Hong Kong students and intellectuals. Qiao subsequently left his teaching job 
to become the director of the Hong Kong Branch of Xinhua (New China) News 
Agency — the Chinese Communist government's de facto representative office 
in Hong Kong. Later, he was re-assigned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 
eventually became foreign minister. Qiaos first wife Gong Peng was with him in 
Hong Kong at that time; she was the editor of the bi-weekly English publication 
China Today, which enjoyed a wide readership. 

In order to learn more about New China — a term that the CCP used for 
the country now undergoing "socialist construction ', I followed Tse Kwong and 
Yuan Kwong to bookstores to look through books and magazines published by 
Xinhua Bookstore and the Foreign Language Press of Beijing. China Today and 
China Reconstmcts were popular among those of us who were trying to catch a 
glimpse of New China. When we were in a more serious mood we would look 
for books on social theories and development, and the most studious readers 
would tackle the works of Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong. The bookstores 
we frequented included Commercial Press, Joint Publishing Company, Hwa 
Sheung, New Democracy Press, and Apollo (Chi Yuen), all of which were either 
affiliated with the CCP or sympathetic to the Communist cause. We would take 
books down from their shelves and read them while standing in the aisles, and 
often returning the next day (and even the day after) to finish where we left off. 
We were not the only ones, and as long as we kept the books in good order and 
returned them to the shelves the bookstore staff did not seem to mind. Only 
after we were sure we really wanted to keep the books would we buy them. 

During this period, books and newspapers of various descriptions and 
ideologies flourished in Hong Kong, mirroring the civil war on the Mainland and 
amplifying messages from both sides. Aside from Hwa Sheung Po and Cheng Bao, 
the socialist camp was bolstered by Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao where staunch 
pro-communist viewpoints had replaced previously more moderate positions. 

Hong Kong after the War 75 

The pro-Communist newspapers also quoted widely from Xinhua News Agency, 
and would use terms such as "progressive", "democratic", "revolutionary" and 
"patriotic" in line with their United Front strategy. 

Newspapers in the Nationalist camp, on the other hand, relied on the 
Central News Agency for their news reports and often emphasized their side 
as representing freedom: thus Free China, free labour unions, free merchant 
associations and free schools. The National Times was a mouthpiece of the 
Nationalist government. Its views were echoed by The Kung Sheung Daily News 
published by Nationalist General Ho Sai Lai, the son of Robert Hotung who had 
been the former chief comprador of Jardine Matheson and one of the richest 
persons in Hong Kong. The Nationalist camp was reinforced by a growing 
number of refugees from the Mainland, many of whom were staunchly anti- 
communist. Starting in the late 1940s and throughout the next two decades, 
Nationalist flags were often hoisted in makeshift squatter huts on the hillsides 
or in the "resettlement" housing estates throughout Kowloon where many of 
the refugees lived. 

In the middle of the spectrum were a host of supposedly more objective, 
"neutral" newspapers appealing to those who did not want to take either side. 
Prime examples were Sing Taojih Pao and Wah Kiu Yat Po. Sing Tao was published 
by the Aw family, which made its fortune in Singapore and Malaysia. Wah Kiu, 
the second oldest newspaper in Hong Kong, was noted for its conservative stance 
and support of the "establishment": at first the British colonial government, 
then the government of the Occupied Territory of Hong Kong, and again the 
colonial government after the war. 

With this myriad of publications competing for our attention, I tried to read 
a wide range of newspapers and books and attempted to keep an open mind. 
What later struck me as strange was that the pro-communist camp which called 
itself "democratic" never saw the need to uphold individual freedom, while the 
Nationalist camp which prided itself on representing "freedom" never thought 
to advocate democracy. 

Aside from my many reading sources, 1 was also deeply affected by some 
of the realist and more progressive Chinese films shown in Hong Kong during 
this period. Pictures such as Eight Thousand Miles of Cloud and Moon and A River 
oj Spring Water Flowing to the East depicted patriotism and sufferings during 
the Anti-Japanese War and the economic plight and disappointment among the 
middle class and intellectuals after the war ended. Other films were based on the 
writings of well-known authors such as Lu Xun's The True Story oj Ah Q and Ba 
Jin's Family, Spring, and Autumn trilogy. These movies, which challenged feudal 
traditions and criticized social and economic injustice, captured the hearts and 
minds of many cinema-goers and made a deep impression on me, helping to 
shape my thoughts concerning China. 

76 The Dragon and the Crown 

On balance, given the patriotism that the Anti-Japanese War instilled in 
me and my deplorable experience with the Nationalist government on the 
Mainland, I was sympathetic to the views of the pro-communist media. Man 
Kwong was less in favour, but he understood the feelings of his brothers 
and refrained from interfering in our activities. He did remark to me, 
however, that Tse Kwong was becoming less and less enthusiastic about his 
work at Kung Lee, and Yuan Kwong was increasingly distracted from his 

None of us knew then the extent of Tse Kwongs convictions, or that he was 
so strongly committed to his beliefs that he had decided to join the Communist 
Party. Only much later, as we reminisced about that decisive period in our lives 
when ideologies and destinies were shaped, would Tse Kwong tell me about his 
dramatic encounters. 

"First 1 had to write a detailed autobiography about my family, my 
education and my work experiences, and what I did during the war," he 
said. "Then I had to write about my thoughts and how I came to believe in 
Communism. " 

"It was all done in secrecy, like in the movies," he recalled with a smile. "I 
met up with a middle-aged senior member of the underground party in Central. 
We walked around the block several times, strolling along Queen's Road and 
Des Voeux Road Central and the small lanes in between. We talked about what 
I wrote and he would ask me questions, while looking around from time to time 
to make sure that we were not attracting too much attention. Finally, we ended 
up having afternoon tea at On Lok Yuen Restaurant and he told me that 1 would 
be accepted into the Party." 

As a new party member, Tse Kwong was so eager to commit himself to 
the revolution that when his teachers and schoolmates started to leave for 
Guangzhou in mid 1949 to prepare for the Communist takeover, he decided to 
join them and declined Chung Wah's request for him to stay behind in Hong 
Kong to take charge of the school. 

One early September evening when we were setting up our cots for the 
night, Tse Kwong announced that he would be leaving for Guangzhou to join 
the revolution. Man Kwong and I were speechless and could only stare at him 
blankly. We were not at all sure whether or not he was doing the right thing, but 
at the same time we did not know what the right thing was. We were definitely 
disappointed with the Nationalists and wished that they would be replaced, 
but we were not convinced that Communism was the right answer. Although 
the CCP was active during the Anti-Japanese War and seemed to be effective 
in rallying the people, we felt that its policies were untested during peacetime. 
Besides, all we had learned about socialism and communism was from books, 
and not from experience in real life. 

Hong Kong after the War 77 

"Don't rush into this," Man Kwong said, trying to hold down his quick 
temper and reason with Tse Kwong. "You don't really know what will happen 
once the Communists take over." 

"Why don't you wait and see," 1 hastened to add. 

"The Communist Party fights for greater justice and equality among the 
people," Tse Kwong said calmly. "Isn't this what we want for China? Most 
people are behind the Party. If it doesn't have the peoples support, how come 
it's winning the civil war?" 

"I support Fourth Brother's move," Yuan Kwong said excitedly. "If everyone 
just waits and sees, who's going to rebuild China?" 

"Our country needs us now, not later," Tse Kwong insisted. 

"My mind is made up," he said finally, trying to put an end to the argument. 
"I'll be leaving soon." 

Mother was angry at first, then she burst into tears and begged him to stay. 
We stood by helplessly and did our best to console her. 

In early September 1949, soon after his twenty-third birthday, Tse Kwong 
resigned from Kung Lee and told Aunt Rose and Uncle Leung that he was 
moving to Tianjin for further studies. Seeing that Tse Kwong's mind was made 
up and there was not much we could do, Man Kwong and I gave him a watch 
and whatever money we could spare, and sent him off with words of caution 
and encouragement. 

Tse Kwong left home and made his way to Ma Liu Shui in the New 
Territories, where he boarded a small boat and landed in Huizhou on 
the coast of Guangdong Province before making his way to Guangzhou 
under cover. As the Fourth Field Army of the People's Liberation Army 
entered Guangzhou in October, Tse Kwong became part of the Takeover 

Yuan Kwong followed in his footsteps. Through his involvement with the 
Rainbow Chorus, he was recruited into the New Democratic Youth League of 
the underground party in early September the same year. Towards the end of 
the month, a few weeks after Tse Kwong had left, Yuan Kwong told us about 
his decision to follow suit. We probably should have expected this but were 
nevertheless taken aback. 

"You're still too young," Man Kwong said. "Why don't you finish your 
studies first and go to university." 

"I can't miss this opportunity to serve my country," Yuan Kwong insisted. 
"Besides, I can always go to university on the Mainland. Many people have done 
so, including you." 

When Yuan Kwong broke the news to Mother, she became almost hysterical. 
If she were upset at Tse Kwong's departure, she was completely devastated by 
Yuan Kwong's decision. 

78 The Dragon and the Crown 

"Do you all know how hard we have tried to keep this family together after 
the war?" she shouted, bursting into tears. "Your father's passing already pierced 
my heart. The four of you are like my bone and flesh. And now you want to tear 
them apart too?" 

Man Kwong and I were paralyzed by her words. We tried to go through all 
the arguments with Yuan Kwong again, until there was not much more we could 
say. 1 felt sad and completely helpless. In the end, we also gave him a watch and 
some money and saw him off with our blessings. 

Yuan Kwong "smuggled" himself back to Guangdong along a similar route 
and joined the South China Art Ensemble — a troupe of 129 youths from 
Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Their mission was to prepare the people for 
the "liberation" of Guangdong. On 14 October 1949, when Communist troops 
entered Guangzhou, Yuan Kwong was among the troupes that performed dances 
and songs on the city streets to welcome them. He was only seventeen. 

Mother wept for days and refused to be consoled for many weeks after Yuan 
Kwong left. Man Kwong and I tried to keep an open mind; even though we 
were both worried and sceptical, the political situation on the Mainland was so 
confusing that we were not entirely convinced that Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong 
were taking the wrong path. In fact, we were not even certain that Communist 
troops would not march across the border and take over Hong Kong. 

By October 1949, the CCP had taken control of the Mainland and established 
the People's Republic of China (PRC). The defeated Nationalist government 
moved to Taiwan and continued to call itself the Republic of China (ROC). 
Hong Kong in the meantime remained a British colony — the CCP reportedly, 
and correctly, saw some strategic value in keeping the status quo — and Macao 
remained a Portuguese colony. The Chinese people in their homeland were thus 
divided into four parts along geographical, historical, political and ideological 

Despite our anguish at the departure of our younger brothers, it later 
became apparent that our family was among the more fortunate ones; although 
we had differences in our political views, we respected each other's beliefs. Many 
other families in Hong Kong would be tragically torn apart by the ideological 
differences between couples, among siblings, and between parents and their 
children, many of whom would never speak to each other or see each other 

My other relatives in Hong Kong were also caught in the growing ideological 
divide. Some of them took the path of Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong and went 
back to the Mainland to join the revolution, including Aunt Rose's son Nai Hei 
and two of Uncle Wai Chow's sons, Sai Kwong and Hung Kwong. 

After returning from Babu after the war, Nai Hei completed his studies at 
Lingnan Secondary School and went on to attend Queens College. After passing 

Hong Kong after the War 79 

the Hong Kong Government School Leaving Examination in 1950, however, he 
enrolled in Lingnan University in Guangzhou, which was then already under 
Communist rule. Like Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong, he was attracted by the 
vision of a strong, egalitarian and independent China under the Communist 
Party and decided that he no longer wanted to live under British colonial rule. 

Sai Kwong, Uncle Wai Chows eldest surviving son, was also attracted by the 
promises of the CCP and went back to Guangxi in 1958. After the war, Uncle Wai 
Chow started up his banking business once again, trading gold under the Ming 
On name while continuing his edible oil business under another licence, Ming 
Fat. Sai Kwong helped out with his father's businesses after he returned to Hong 
Kong at the end of the war, but during his stay in Guangxi he too had become 
disillusioned with the Nationalist government. Under Tse Kwong's influence, he 
started to attend the activities sponsored by the underground party, such as the 
lectures by Qiao Guanhua and studies of Mao's On New Democracy, and took 
writing classes taught by well-known mainland writers who were often affiliated 
with the CCP. After Uncle Wai Chow's gold trading business collapsed in 1957, 
again from over-speculation, Sai Kwong moved with his family to Nanning, 
Guangxi (his wife's native city) and found work in the finance department of the 
city's Chinese medical hospital. 

Under Sai Kwong's influence, many of his younger siblings studied at the 
pro-PRC Hon Wah Middle School, which was constructed on the site of our 
old mansion on Ching Lin Terrace. His younger brother Hung Kwong went 
on to attend university on the Mainland and was assigned to Hunan Normal 
University in Changsha, Hunan Province. 

Thus we all took different paths. Over the next three decades, during 
the course of China's numerous political campaigns and social and economic 
upheavals, I often became frustrated in thinking how different their lives would 
have been if my brothers and cousins had remained in Hong Kong. The image 
of their hardships on the Mainland and my thoughts of what could have been 
would haunt me for many years to come. 

Starting Life in New China 

Yuan Kwong began his revolutionary career on the Mainland by playing small 
parts in such well-known plays as The White -Haired Girl and Wang Xiu Ying, 
both depicting the plight of peasants under the old society and their new lives 
after the revolution. After the liberation of Guangzhou, the South China Art 
Ensemble split into three smaller groups and spread out to different parts of 
the province. The favourite slogan of the Ensemble at that time was: "Work 
hard. Study hard. Go to where our motherland needs us most." Yuan Kwong 
was assigned to the Xijiang Art Troupe and worked in Zhaoqing for six years. 

80 The Dragon and the Crown 

At first he continued to act in plays publicizing the new governments policies 
and intended to educate the masses, and one of his more prominent roles was 
in November 1951 as South Korean President Syngman Rhee in a play about 
the Korean War. In 1952, he was assigned to a new position as manager of the 
Peoples Cinema of Gaoyao County, which mostly showed Soviet and Eastern 
European films. 

Even though he was only a junior cadre, Yuan Kwong could not avoid 
being embroiled in political campaigns during his six years in Zhaoqing. During 
the Three-Anti and Five-Anti Campaigns targeting government officials and 
capitalists in 1951-52, he was criticized for employing a former Nationalist 
official in his cinema. Yuan Kwong tried to defend himself, but much to his 
disappointment he was re-assigned to a cloth factory during the subsequent 
Cooperatives Campaign of 1953-54. 

"I really saw nothing wrong with what I did," he insisted when he told us 
about this ordeal much later. "That person was fully capable and did his job." 

On the whole, however, Yuan Kwong was not seriously affected by the 
numerous political campaigns of the 1950s since he was relatively junior 
and had a "clean" family background. Nevertheless, when he finally wrote 
to us in 1956 that the Gaoyao County leadership had recommended him 
to attend Peking University under the government's "Outstanding Young 
Cadre Education Scheme", we collectively heaved a sigh of relief and 
heartily congratulated him on this opportunity to enrol in the country's most 
prestigious university. Yuan Kwong first studied Russian at the university, 
but switched to the Department of Chinese Literature during his second 
year when he discovered that there was a surplus of Russian language 
students. He graduated in 1961 and was the only university graduate in our 

Since Yuan Kwong had left home as a teenager, Mother, Man Kwong and 
I continued to worry about him much more than about Tse Kwong. When he 
graduated, we hoped that he would be assigned to Guangzhou so that he could 
be near Tse Kwong and closer to Hong Kong, but unfortunately the quota for 
new postings to Guangzhou was full. As his second choice, Yuan Kwong decided 
to go to Nanning to be near our cousin Sai Kwong, where he was assigned a 
position at the Drama Research Department of Guangxi's Cultural Bureau. We 
were truly happy that he finally seemed to be well settled and launched on a 
career; but we had no inkling of the dangers ahead. 

Tse Kwong also worked in the cultural field after the liberation of Guangzhou. 
At first he helped the new government take over and manage a cinema and an 
art institute; then he was assigned to the Provincial Cultural Bureau and given 
the important task of leading the reform of Cantonese Opera. Working as a 
political instructor at the opera troupes under the provincial government, he 

Hong Kong after the War 81 

met and later married Lee Yim Sheung, a handsome opera singer from Hong 
Kong who specialized in playing young male roles. 

In the summer of 1955, Tse Kwong suddenly came back to Hong Kong. By 
that time 1 was the only family member still in the colony as Man Kwong had 
married and moved to Singapore with his young family, and Mother had joined 
them. 1 was then living alone in a bachelors apartment in Causeway Bay, and 
going to work at Dodwell Motors. One hot humid evening, as 1 was preparing 
to go out for dinner, there was a quick knock on the door. I opened it and was 
overjoyed to find Tse Kwong standing in the doorway. 

"Shh..." he said, touching his lips with his finger. "Don't tell anyone I'm 

He had returned to Hong Kong on a PRC government-issued return permit 
to carry out an undercover mission to persuade two of China's best-known 
Cantonese Opera singers, Ma Shizeng and his wife Hong Xiannu, to go to the 
Mainland and help reform Cantonese Opera. Tse Kwong was to accompany them, 
and this was probably the most dramatic assignment that he ever undertook. 

I knew very little about his mission at the time. Tse Kwong would leave my 
apartment early in the morning and return late in the evening, so we had time 
for a quick heart-to-heart talk only when I could catch him for dinner or before 
we went to bed. He told me the details of his mission only much later. 

"Xinhua had a small office above a photo studio on Nathan Road," Tse 
Kwong recalled with a shine in his eyes. "I knocked on the office door. When 
it opened, I gave the receptionist my password: 'I want to buy books'. He then 
handed me five hundred dollars for my expenses in Hong Kong." 

Tse Kwong met Ma Shizeng over an elaborate dinner hosted by Dr. Liu Yan 
Tak who was well known for his PRC connections. Liu was the family doctor of 
He Xiangning, the widow of Liao Zhongkai, a key figure of the Nationalist Party, 
and maintained close relationship with her son Liao Chengzhi who was a high- 
ranking PRC official. (Liao headed the CCP's United Front Department and 
later took charge of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs at the central government.) 

"We discussed the government's vision for Cantonese Opera reform and 
how much he could contribute if he were to go back," Tse Kwong said. "Ma was 
initially quite hesitant." 

They negotiated terms over the dinner table until late in the evening. Tse 
Kwong eventually persuaded Ma to move to the Mainland and to leave with him 
via Macao within a few days. Unfortunately for Tse Kwong, Hong Xiannu was 
at that time performing in Singapore and he could not speak with her. On the 
morning of the agreed departure date, Tse Kwong arrived early at Ma's house 
on Shan Kwong Road in Happy Valley to pick up his luggage and take them by 
car to the Macao Ferry. In the afternoon, however, Ma got in touch with Tse 
Kwong and said that he wanted to think things over, so Tse Kwong had to move 

82 The Dragon and the Crown 

the luggage back to Mas house. After waiting in vain for a week, Tse Kwong 
returned to Guangzhou through Macao. 

Several weeks later, Tse Kwong came back to Hong Kong to talk to Ma 
again. This time, Ma made it clear that he wanted to wait for Hong Xiannu 
to come back before making a decision. So again, Tse Kwong had to go back 
to Guangzhou empty-handed. The breakthrough finally came in October that 
year, when Premier Chou Enlai invited both Ma and Hong to the National 
Day celebration in Beijing and greeted them with great publicity and fanfare. 
With such high-level persuasion, Ma finally made up his mind to move to the 
Mainland. After Ma and Hong returned to Hong Kong, Xinhua officials made 
arrangements for their entire family (including their two sons and daughter) to 
take the train to the border with Shenzhen, where Tse Kwong was on hand to 
greet them when they walked across the border. 

The return of Ma Shizeng and Hong Xiannu to the Mainland caused a big 
stir in Hong Kong and scored a major victory for the PRC. Ma was given the 
post of Head of the Guangdong Cantonese Opera Troupe and Hong continued 
to perform as well as teach. Ma dedicated himself to opera reform until his 
death in 1964; Hong's career lasted much longer. Despite persecutions during 
the Cultural Revolution, her expert performance and contribution to Cantonese 
Opera remained widely recognized. Admitted to the CCP in 1963, she became 
Guangdong's representative to the Chinese People's Political Consultative 
Conference and the National People's Congress during various periods. 

After his two visits to meet Ma Shizeng, Tse Kwong came to Hong Kong 
one more time to meet and accompany another well-known Cantonese Opera 
singer, Gui Mingyang, back to China. That was the last time 1 saw him for 
almost twenty years. 

A committed party member, Tse Kwong's career was relatively smooth 
in the early years. During the Three-Anti and Five-Anti Campaigns he was 
falsely accused of stealing some fluorescent lights from a room in the cinema 
he managed and was "isolated for investigation" for several months, but his 
name was later cleared. During the Anti-Rightist Campaign in 1957, which 
incriminated over five hundred thousand intellectuals and officials, Tse Kwong 
also managed to steer clear of various accusations against him. Even after the 
Great Leap Forward in 1958-60, when China's economy collapsed, Tse Kwong 
and his family were able to pull through, with food and clothing that Mother 
and Aunt Rose carried across the border to them by train. 

Despite the political turbulence and economic hardships of the 1950s. 
Tse Kwong had remained fully committed to his work and the Party He \\a> 
promoted to deputy chief of the Cultural Bureau's Arts Section in 1960 for his 
work with the Cantonese Opera troupes and his missions to Hong Kong. It was 
not until the start of the Cultural Revolution in 1966 that he and his family 

Hong Kong after the War 83 

were swept up in the nationwide political turmoil and he had to re-evaluate his 

Of all my relatives who went back to mainland China after the war, only 
Nai Hei left before the Cultural Revolution and managed to escape its ravages. 
In the midst of the Korean War in 1952, Nai Hei was selected to attend the 
Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force Cadre Training School and served in 
the air force until 1955, when he went back to Lingnan University to continue 
his studies. He came back to Hong Kong briefly in 1957 when Uncle Leung 
passed away. After the funeral, Aunt Rose tried to stop him from returning to the 
Mainland by hiding his travel documents and begging him to stay, much to his 
consternation. Nai Hei finally agreed not to go back when Aunt Rose promised 
to send him to study overseas. He left for Europe and enrolled in the National 
University of Ireland in 1960. Later he moved to England, obtained a PhD in 
biochemistry at Bradford University and stayed on as a researcher with Unilever. 
He was one of the few fortunate ones. 

At the Crossroads of Life 

After Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong left for the Mainland in the autumn of 1949, 
I felt inspired by their patriotism and revolutionary zeal and started to think 
that I too ought to contribute to Chinas "socialist construction". Hoping to find 
a way, 1 spoke with friends and acquaintances who I knew to be patriotic and 
progressive, including some of my wartime interpreter comrades and former 
King's College schoolmates. On their recommendation, I enrolled in the Foreign 
Language Department of Nan Fang College to study Russian — the foreign 
language then most in demand in New China. 

Nan Fang catered mainly to white-collar workers who could attend classes 
only in the evenings, after work, and those who could not enter university 
because they had not completed secondary school or achieved the necessary 
grades. There were four departments: Literature and Arts, Journalism, Economics 
and Accounting, and Foreign Languages. Nan Fang was also affiliated with the 
CCP but, unlike at Chung Wah and the Rainbow Chorus, its activities were not 
overtly political. Moreover, even though it was founded by mainland educators, 
the school also had strong local participation. Two prominent local academics 
sat on the school board: Professor Ma Kam and Senior Lecturer Chan Kwan Po, 
both of the Department of Chinese at the University of Hong Kong. Ma Kam's 
son, Ma Lin, was the vice-chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong 
from 1978 to 1987. 

The principals and many of the lecturers at Nan Fang were noted academics 
who were disillusioned with the Nationalist government and sympathized 
with the Communists. Many had come to Hong Kong to escape Nationalist 

84 The Dragon and the Crown 

persecution on the Mainland. My Russian teacher, Mr. Liu, for example, was a 
member of the CCP and had been sent by the Party to study at the University of 
Moscow. I attended classes in Nan Fang in the evenings, after a day at work at 
Dodwell Motors, and met many like-minded students with whom I would often 
discuss developments in New China after class. 

Towards the end of 1951 Nan Fang had to close down because many of its 
teachers and students had gone to the Mainland and the colonial government 
was increasingly wary of the underground activities of the CCP. Some of the 
students went on to enrol in Nan Fang University in Guangzhou, which was a 
cadre training school. I was tempted to join them but had some reservations. 
Employment was not easy to find during the post-war years and 1 was not keen 
to give up my job at Dodwell. Also, while 1 wanted to serve my country, 1 did not 
possess the strong faith in the Communist Party that guided both Tse Kwong 
and Yuan Kwong. I discussed my options with my friends at Nan Fang, and 
they convinced me that since I had a good command of English and worked 
well with both the British and the Americans, 1 would be more useful to China 
if I were to stay and monitor international affairs from Hong Kongs vantage 
point. The time to contribute to China would come, they said. 1 accepted their 
reasoning and stayed, thereby taking a separate path from those of Tse Kwong 
and Yuan Kwong and headed toward an entirely different destiny. 

That same year, Man Kwong took yet another path and decided to pursue 
his career overseas. He had closed down his businesses at the end of 1949 and 
joined Dah Chong Hong, a local trading company affiliated with Hang Seng 
Bank, through the introduction of a Pui Ching classmate. Assured of a good 
job and steady income, Man Kwong rented a flat at 3 Mosque Junction on the 
Mid-Levels and married Wong Wai Ying (Amy), our neighbour and childhood 
friend from Ching Lin Terrace. Mother and 1 moved in with them. The flat was 
a major upgrade from the back office space at 254 Des Voeux Road Central, but 
we did not live there for long as Man Kwong soon had an opportunity to work 

In early 1951, Dah Chong Hong decided to send Man Kwong to set up a 
branch in Singapore in order to expand its business into Southeast Asia. Leung 
Kau Kui, the managing director, asked him to apply for a British passport so 
that he could travel freely within the region. Man Kwong was greatly excited 
by the opportunity, but he immediately stumbled upon an obstacle: Mother had 
lost his birth certificate during the war, and without it he could not qualify for 
a British passport. In desperation Man Kwong appealed to Fourteenth Uncle 
Tang Shiu Kin who, in his capacity as a Justice of the Peace, would be able to 
certify that he was indeed born in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, Uncle Shiu Kin's 
response was lukewarm. Then Aunt Rose, after consulting with a friend at a 
law office, came up with a daring idea. Mother had found the birth certificate 

Hong Kong after the War 85 

of our eldest brother Iu Kwong, who died in infancy, so Aunt Rose suggested 
that Mother take an oath to say that Man Kwong also went by the name of lu 
Kwong; Man Kwong could then use this birth certificate to apply for a British 
passport. The scheme worked and Man Kwong was thereafter known in all his 
legal documents and business dealings as Iu Kwong. 

Man Kwong left Hong Kong for Singapore in the summer of 1951, 
accompanied by his wife Amy and their new-born son, Cheuk. Mother also 
went with them and stayed in Singapore until 1958 when she returned to Hong 
Kong to live with me. Before they left, Mother took Man Kwong to call on Uncle 
Wai Chow to pay their respects and take leave. Uncle Wai Chow was by then 
getting old and fragile, but his eyes and voice were as sharp as ever. 

Uncle Wai Chow looked steadily at Man Kwong for some time and said: 
The higher you climb, the more heavily you'll fall." 

Man Kwong was livid and would have retorted had Mother not tugged at 
his sleeve and pulled him away. Fortunately, Uncle Wai Chow's prediction never 
came true. With hard work and good business acumen, Man Kwong went on to 
a successful career in Singapore trading sugar, rubber and other commodities 
as well as developing real estate. After ten years, he moved on to head up the 
company's operations in Japan and had another highly successful career there 
in commodity trading and real estate development until he retired back to Hong 
Kong in 1985. 

So of all my family 1 alone stayed on in Hong Kong, standing at the 
crossroads. I could not keep my younger brothers' patriotism and dedication 
to rebuilding China out of my mind, but I was not ready to follow in their 
footsteps. While I remained undecided on what to do with my future life, 1 did 
start something very personal for myself: I began courting. 

When Mother left with Man Kwong for Singapore, she told me not to forget 
to visit our elder relatives and pay respects to them on her behalf. She specifically 
mentioned my sister-in-law Amy's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wong Hing Kwong, 
our old family friends and neighbours. I started calling on them on Chinese 
New Year Day and on their birthdays as Mother instructed. Mr. Wong had a big 
family which included his wife, his concubine and thirteen surviving children 
(seven sons and six daughters). Amy, who was my classmate in primary school, 
was his sixth child. Mrs. Wong and her eldest daughter Wai Sheung used to 
come over to our house on Ching Lin Terrace to play mahjong with Mother and 
Grandmother, and I had known the Wong family since my childhood. When 1 
visited them in the 1950s they had moved to a new residence at No. 1 Glenealy 
— a short steep street leading up to the Botanical Gardens at the Mid-Levels in 
Central. Almost all of Amy's older brothers had gone overseas to study and only 
the younger siblings were living at home. 

86 The Dragon and the Crown 

Mr. Wong belonged to the early, elite Chinese upper-middle class. He 
attended Diocesan Boys' School, a well-known English secondary school, and 
read economics at the University of Hong Kong, graduating in 1918. He first 
inherited a Chinese wine business on Wing Lok Street under the name of Wong 
Kwong Sin Tong (the Wong Family Hall of Great Charity), and later operated the 
Chung Wah Distillery in Stanley and the Tung Ah Pharmacy on the ground floor 
of the Entertainment Building on Queen's Road Central. Both these businesses 
were well known and prosperous before the war. 

After the Japanese swept into southern China, Mr. Wong anticipated 
correctly that Hong Kong would soon be invaded. He stockpiled rice, salted 
fish and kerosene in various locations on Hong Kong Island, and was thus able 
to sustain his large family during the Japanese occupation. His three oldest 
children — daughter Wai Sheung and sons Man Shun and Man Hung — were 
all studying at the University of Hong Kong when the Japanese invaded. To 
enable his two sons to continue their studies, Mr. Wong found ways of sending 
them overseas. Man Shun went to Chongqing through Guangzhouwan and left 
for the US via India; he continued his studies at the University of Wisconsin and 
eventually settled in California. Man Hung made his way across land through 
Qujiang to Chongqing and left for Scotland where he continued his medical 
studies at the University of Edinburgh; he eventually settled in Vancouver, 

During the Japanese occupation, however, Mr. Wong was deeply affected 
by the hardships of survival and nearly died during the bombing of Wanchai. 
He never fully recovered from his war experience. After the war, he became 
obsessed with the dangers of the Cold War and, convinced that he had to 
prepare for a third world war, he again started to stockpile rice and other foods. 
He was also highly critical of the Nationalists, the Communists and the Hong 
Kong government. His disillusionment with politics and anxieties about an 
impending war took his attention away from his businesses and almost resulted 
in a nervous breakdown. To recuperate, during the weekends Mr. Wong would 
often retreat to his distillery in Stanley or his villa in Macao, and I would miss 
seeing him when I visited. 

No. 1 Glenealy was an old, spacious four-storey apartment building. The 
Wongs lived on the top floor; the kitchen and the maids' quarters were on the 
rooftop. During my visits, I would mingle with the younger siblings who were 
still living at home. Wai Sheung helped Mr. Wong with the family business 
while keeping an eye on the household. All her siblings called her "Big Sister", 
and so did I. After a few visits, I became friendly with Josephine, the seventh 
child, as she was about my age. A top student at Sacred Heart School, one of the 
best English girls' schools in Hong Kong, she was good natured and intelligent. 
Noticing my interest in her younger sister, Wai Sheung encouraged me to go out 

Hong Kong after the War 87 

with Josephine. I did so with pleasure, and eventually felt that our relationship 
could be developed further from just being friends; but the day never came. 
Josephine left Hong Kong in 1955 to further her studies and later settled in 
Vancouver, Canada. We saw each other again in Vancouver more than thirty 
years later, by when we had both raised our own families. Still later, we were 
delighted to meet again in Toronto, and by then both of us had grey hair and 

At the same time that I was seeing Josephine, I also went out with Chan 
Wing Kin, who would become my wife. 

I met Wing Kin through her older sister Chan Hang Chuen whom 1 met at 
Nan Fang College, which both she and her husband Man Sing attended. At that 
time, we regarded ourselves as patriotic and "progressive", sharing the same 
ideals and beliefs, and we soon became good friends. I was working at Dodwell 
Motors, a British firm; Hang Chuen and Man Sing were employed by the San 
Miguel Brewery, the colony's biggest beer producer, owned by Filipino interests. 
For nationalistic reasons we did not like our employers, but we hung on to our 
jobs for the sake of earning a living. 

Hang Chuen and I were also connected in other ways. Before the war, my 
cousin Lin Chee (Uncle Wai Chows eldest daughter), Hang Chuen and her 
elder sister Shook Ling were classmates at Sai Nam Middle School, a Chinese 
school registered with both the Hong Kong Education Department and the 
Ministry of Education of the Nationalist government. The Chan sisters often 
visited Lin Chee at Uncle Wai Chow's mansion on Ching Lin Terrace and they 
spent much time together in the house and the beautiful garden at the back. 
After graduating from Sai Nam, Hang Chuen and Shook Ling attended Sun 
Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. Wing Kin, who was much younger, remained 
in Sai Nam to finish middle school and later attended St. Clare's Girls' College 
— an English secondary school. Lin Chee stayed in Hong Kong but switched to 
Belilios Public School, one of the top English government schools for girls. She 
graduated before the fall of Hong Kong and left with me for the Mainland at the 
beginning of the Japanese occupation. 

Hang Chuen was attracted to socialist ideas, but she was not ready to 
live under a communist regime and decided to return to Hong Kong when 
Communist troops took over Guangzhou. In the terminology we then used, 
Hang Chuen was more of a "petit bourgeois" than a revolutionary. While she 
avidly read newspapers, journals and books with a socialist leaning, she also 
liked fancy dresses and going to dance parties. She was very sociable and 
adopted the English name Rosina in order to make friends with foreigners. 

After learning that I was Lin Chee's cousin, Hang Chuen lost no time in 
renewing her acquaintance with her former Sai Nam classmate. Lin Chee, who 
was married in Guilin during the war, had returned to Hong Kong with her 

88 The Dragon and the Crown 

husband. The couple lived in Uncle Wai Chows mansion while Lin Chee taught 
at Tak Yan College, a private English school. When visiting Lin Chee at Ching 
Ling Terrace, Hang Chuen would often ask Wing Kin and I to go along. Then 
she and Lin Chee would make excuses to stay away from us, so that we had the 
opportunity to be alone and to get to know each other. 

Like Wai Sheung, Lin Chee was another "Big Sister" to me. After Wing Kin 
and I made a few visits to her house, she encouraged me to start going out with 
Wing Kin. 1 was at first embarrassed and reluctant, since I was already seeing 
Josephine, but I was also attracted to Wing Kin, who impressed me as being very 
kind-hearted and frugal. When we went out together, she would discourage me 
from ordering fancy dishes or buying expensive movie tickets. She would also 
be upset if I did not give money to beggars on the sidewalk or forgot to tip the 
waiters at the restaurant. After Josephine left Hong Kong in 1955, 1 started to 
devote all my attention to Wing Kin, although we went through another year of 
courtship before getting married. 

Every Saturday afternoon for over a year, Wing Kin and I would meet up at 
the Star Ferry terminal after 1 finished work at Dodwell Motors. Dodwell's office 
and showroom were on the ground floor of Queens Building — an elaborate 
four-storey arcaded building topped by a small tower in the middle and a turret 
at each of the front corners. Occupying the current site of the Mandarin Hotel 
on Connaught Road, Queens Building was just across the street from the Star 
Ferry terminal, which comprised a small white building with a clock tower 
and a long pier covered by a pitched white roof. The building and pier were 
replaced in the early 1970s by a large two-storey U-shaped terminal building 
to its east, which in turn was demolished (under protest) in 2006 to make way 
for highway construction. As the only transportation link between Central 
District and Kowloon Peninsula at that time, the Star Ferry enjoyed a busy flow 
of traffic. We would often find long queues in front of the turnstiles of the ticket 
offices. The passengers were divided into two distinct groups. In the queue for 
the upper first-class deck of the ferry would be European and Chinese business 
executives in well-tailored western suits, European ladies with fancy hats and 
colourful handbags, Chinese ladies in tight-fitting cheongsam (qipao), and 
casually dressed tourists with cameras. In the queue for the lower third-class 
deck would be Chinese white- and blue-collar workers, housewives, and eldcrK 
people, who would have to endure the noise and fumes from the engine room of 
the ferry throughout the voyage. I always thought it curious that, similar to the 
tram cars on the island, there was no second class. This was perhaps the British 
way of making an unmistakable distinction between the classes. 

When the clock on the Star Ferry terminal struck one, I would be rushing 
across the street to meet Wing Kin. We would usually start off the afternoon 
with a light lunch in a small, inexpensive but tasteful Western restaurant where 

Hong Kong after the War 89 

we could enjoy the quiet and privacy. On Hong Kong side we usually preferred 
Jimmy's Kitchen, which was located in a small lane beside Queens Theatre on 
Queens Road Central and served typical English food on checkered table cloths. 
On Kowloon side we would often go to Cherikov on Nathan Road, where we 
would order their signature Russian borscht. After lunch, we would either 
watch the matinee show at a cinema or just window-shop in Tsim Sha Tsui or 
Central. Later in the afternoon, we would sometimes go for a "tea dance". A 
popular Hong Kong pastime during the 1950s and 1960s, "tea dances" were 
usually held in the ballrooms of major hotels where customers could take their 
English afternoon tea and dance to a live band. We used to go for "tea dances" at 
the ballroom on the top floor of the Metropole Hotel on Queens Road Central; 
the more up-market "tea dances" at the Hong Kong Hotel and Gloucester Hotel 
on Pedder Street in Central, and the Peninsula Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui were too 
expensive for us. Since Wing Kins parents preferred that she stayed home in 
the evenings, we seldom dined out or stayed out late except when we were both 
invited to dinner parties. 

Since Mr. Cooper, my boss at Dodwell Motors, was highly demanding, 1 
was often swamped with work even on Saturdays. Sometimes I would have 
to work overtime and skip my Saturday afternoon date with Wing Kin, who 
was never shy in expressing her displeasure. To make up, 1 would rush to her 
home as soon as I finished work and apologize profusely. 1 would also take the 
opportunity to pay my respect to her parents, and they would often ask me to 
stay for dinner. 

Like me, Wing Kin came from a big traditional family. Her father Chan Yue 
Chik lived with his wife and their twelve children in an old five-storey building 
at No. 7 Bonham Road at the Mid-Levels. Wing Kin was their eleventh child and 
Hang Chuen the eighth. 

The Chans' family values wereyee and yeung (righteousness and humility), 
so their household name was Chan Yee Yeung Tong (the Chan Family Hall of 
Righteousness and Humility). The antique blackwood furniture in the living 
room and the scrolls covered in Chinese calligraphy on the walls reminded 
me that Wing Kin's father came from a scholarly family, just like Father. Wing 
Kin's father engaged in the so-called Nam Pak Hong entrepot trade between 
China and Southeast Asia, trading such traditional Chinese products as silk 
and herbal medicine for rice, spices and sea products from Southeast Asia. He 
operated his business under the name of Lung Tai Hong, in partnership with 
some of his clansmen and friends. However, both Father and Chan Yue Chik 
were better scholars than businessmen since Father's bank went bankrupt and 
Lung Tai Hong closed down after losing a lot of money. Honest and trusting, 
Chan Yue Chik was cheated of his investments and shareholdings by his 
partners, and spent his retirement years reading Chinese classics and writing 

90 The Dragon and the Crown 

"I am sorry that your father passed away so young," Chan Yue Chik said 
when I first paid him a visit. "He was a good friend." 

Father and Chan Yue Chik were acquainted with each other through their 
dealings with Chan Lim Pak, the ex-comprador of the Hongkong and Shanghai 
Bank and a notorious Japanese collaborator during the war. Chan Yue Chik was 
actually Chan Lim Pak's uncle, even though he was younger, because Chan Yue 
Chik was the ninth son of the family while Chan Lim Pak's father was the third 
and there was a considerable difference in age between the two brothers. This 
anomaly was not uncommon in large families at that time. My sister-in-law 
Amy was the sixth child and her son Cheuk is actually one year older than her 
fourteenth and youngest sister Wai Sum. 

Differences in political ideology split the Chan family just as they did ours. 
Four of Wing Kin's older siblings had gone to Guangzhou to attend university 
after the war. Sisters Hang Chuen, Tse Kiu and Shook Ling studied at Sun Yat- 
sen University and brother Tsok Po attended Lingnan University. When the 
PLAs Fourth Field Army took over Guangzhou in October 1949, Hang Chuen 
and Tsok Po returned to Hong Kong, but Tse Kiu and Shook Ling stayed on since 
both of them had become sympathetic to the Communist cause and Tse Kiu had 
already joined the CCR Risking the danger of being caught and imprisoned 
by the Nationalist government, the two sisters and other pro-communist 
students called on Guangzhou citizens to welcome the PLA by putting up 
posters, distributing leaflets and making speeches. The CCP gave Tse Kiu great 
credit for her underground work and appointed her as the Deputy Chief of the 
Bureau of Education in the new People's Government of Guangdong Province. 
Shook Ling was politically less ambitious; her interests were in the fine arts and 
classical Chinese literature, and she stayed on in Guangzhou as a painter. She 
later married a railway engineer, Ho Ling Fai, and moved to Bejing where they 
raised three children. Tse Kiu married relatively late, to a veteran of the Fourth 
Field Army who liberated Guangzhou. 

After graduating from Lingnan's Agriculture Department, Tsok Po returned 
to Hong Kong to take up a position in the government's Agriculture and 
Fisheries Department. After a few years he resigned and returned to Guangzhou 
to continue his studies at Lingnan University. Fired up by patriotism during the 
war, Tsok Po never felt at ease working in the colonial government and told us 
that he resented the superior attitudes of the British officials he reported to. At 
Lingnan, Tsok Po taught in the Sericulture Department, first as a lecturer and 
later as a full professor. 

Another brother, Po Kwong, attended the Teachers' College of Hong Kong 
before the war, went on to study and practise Chinese medicine, and eventually 
settled on the Mainland. He went to the Mainland at the start of the Japanese 
occupation and enrolled in the medical services of the Nationalist government. 

Hong Kong after the War 91 

He later became the superintendent of the Lodong County Government Health 
Clinic on Hainan Island where he met his wife. Po Kwong became disappointed 
with the corruption and incompetence of the Nationalist government. After the 
Communists took over Hainan, he and his wife returned briefly to Hong Kong 
but later moved to Guangzhou where he continued his medical practice. 

Like my younger brothers who joined the revolution, those of Wing Kin's 
siblings who went back to mainland China would find their lives following a 
completely different trajectory from ours in Hong Kong. Over the next two 
decades, the colony generally enjoyed peace and prosperity, while China was 
convulsed by continuous revolution. When we met Wing Kins siblings on the 
Mainland almost twenty years later and heard about their experiences, we were 
amazed at how different our fates could be. 

Wing Kin and 1 got married on 4 February 1956 at the office of the Marriage 
Registry at the Supreme Court (in what is now Hong Kong's Legislative Council 
Building). We exchanged vows with Uncle Wai Chow and Wing Kin's mother 
as our witnesses. Uncle Wai Chow and both my parents-in-law were too frail 
to host our dinner reception that evening, but Aunt Rose came to our rescue. 
As always, her cheerful and outgoing personality made the occasion a very 
colourful and joyful one. 

Once we had settled into married life, Wing Kin started to teach in Tak 
Yan College following an introduction from Lin Chee. At first we lived in a 
rented room in a house on a small lane near the Peak Tram line and Kennedy 
Road. When we later moved to a two-bedroom apartment on Ying Fai Terrace, 
off Caine Road, Mother was able to move back from Singapore to live with us. 
Mother was happy to meet her new daughter-in-law and was looking forward to 
having more grandchildren, but she was disappointed since we were not able to 
have children for some time. When Wing Kin suffered a miscarriage a few years 
after our marriage I finally suggested that she should stop working and stay at 
home. She succeeded in giving birth to a baby girl in 1962, but the baby died 
of leukaemia a year later. Mother's wishes were finally granted when Yvonne 
was born in 1964 and Elaine in 1965 and, thank goodness, our daughters have 
grown up healthy and strong. 

The Decline of Traditional Families 

The large family in which 1 grew up had started to decline toward the late 
1930s, and the war and the Communist revolution precipitated its dissolution. 
Many large traditional families in Hong Kong suffered a similar fate. When the 
war ended, many of the second-generation children either went back to the 
Mainland, such as in the Kwan and Chan families, or went overseas, as in the 
Wong family. For other families, such as the Tang family economic decline also 

92 The Dragon and the Crown 

contributed to their disintegration, and many stately family mansions had to be 
either sold or demolished. 

Uncle Wai Chow was forced to sell our mansion on Ching Lin Terrace 
before the war so that he could repay his debts when his business failed. In 
order to "save face", however, he and his family continued to live there as 
tenants until his death in 1957. The number of residents in the Kwan mansion 
peaked immediately after the war because both Lin Chee and Sai Kwong had 
returned home from the Mainland with their families and had to stay in Ching 
Lin Terrace until they could find a place of their own. In the meantime, however, 
the ongoing feud within the family intensified, accelerating its dissolution. First 
Aunt was the first to leave and spent the last years of her life in a nunnery 
in Sha Tin (in the New Territories). Then, Hung Kwong left for university in 
Changsha, Hunan Province. After Uncle Wai Chow passed away, the family was 
quite broke, so Sai Kwong and his family went back to Guangxi; and Lin Chee 
and her husband moved to a government housing estate in Kowloon, bringing 
Third Aunt with them. When Sixth Aunt and the rest of her children finally left 
Ching Lin Terrace for a small apartment in Wanchai, the disintegration of the 
family was complete. 

The Tang family suffered a similar fate. Even though all my maternal uncles 
and Aunt Rose stayed on in Hong Kong after the war, their respective financial 
difficulties led to the family's decline. Among my four maternal uncles, only 
Fourteenth Uncle Shiu Kin was able to build on his inheritance from Gung 
Gung Tang Chi Ngong and reap the benefits of his massive fortune. In 1955, 
Gung Gung's majestic mansion on Gough Street, which had once housed all his 
children and their families, was sold to developers who tore it down to build 
high-rise apartments. 

The Wong family moved from their Ching Lin Terrace mansion to a large 
apartment in Glenealy before the war. Highly critical of the colonial government 
and distrustful of political developments on the Mainland, Mr. Wong encouraged 
his children to go abroad. After his wife and eight of his thirteen children 
emigrated, Mr. Wong gave up his Glenealy residence and retired instead to a 
villa in Macao until he died in 1985. 

The Chan family was also splintered. In the late 1950s, my father-in-law 
Chan Yue Chik decided to tear down his house on Bonham Road and build a 
modern eight-storey apartment building for his family on the site. While this was 
a fine idea, my father-in-law was not an experienced builder and was cheated by 
his contractors. Construction work was delayed, building materials were more 
expensive than expected, and the financing scheme was full of loopholes. By 
the time the project was completed, my father-in-law was in debt and had to 
sell four of the eight apartments in order to pay off his creditors. He and his 
wife lived in one of the apartments he still owned, but none of his children 

Hong Kong after the War 93 

who were living in Hong Kong at the time chose to move into the other three. 
In his will, the four apartments that he still owned were shared among eight of 
his children, but Chan Yue Chik disinherited his four other children because 
they had disappointed him by going over to the Mainland. Like the patriarchs 
of other large traditional families, Chan Yue Chik had to give up the tradition 
of keeping "three generations under one roof". Hong Kong was moving on to a 
new era. 

The 1950s 

Political, economic and social life in the colony during the 1950s was greatly 
affected by developments in mainland China. In January 1950 the British 
government recognized the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) on the Mainland, 
but at the same time it maintained diplomatic relations with the Republic 
of China (ROC) — the Nationalist government — and set up a consulate in 
Taiwan. The relationship between Britain and the PRC was, needless to say, 
uneasy. Beijing was well aware that, for ideological and political reasons, Britain 
could hardly be a true friend, and neither the British nor local Hong Kong 
residents doubted Chinas desire to recover the colony as soon as the time was 
ripe. Hong Kong thus became a political hot spot — a "borrowed place" living 
on "borrowed time". 

During this period, Hong Kong was flooded with refugees who had fled the 
Communist regime on the Mainland. Some foreign journalists described this 
mass movement as people "voting with their feet" and, aware of the political 
implications, the colonial government felt that it had to give the refugees 
resident status. Hong Kongs population soared from around 1 million in 1945 
to slightly over 2 million by the end of 1950 and to 2.5 million by 1955. The 
already acute housing shortage after the war was thus further aggravated, and 
makeshift houses constructed from wooden boards and corrugated metal sheets 
sprang up all over the hills of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. After a massive 
fire burned down a large shanty town in Shek Kip Mei in 1953, leaving over fifty 
thousand homeless, the government decided that it had to step in to provide 
basic public services and maintain social stability, and a large-scale government 
housing programme was launched. 

With the burgeoning population, law and order also became a top priority. 
To maintain order and boost morale, the British government sent massive 
troop reinforcements to the colony, strengthened the police force and gave it 
greater discretionary powers, and revitalized and reorganized the auxiliary 
sendees that had been dissolved after the war. Several services, including the 
Air Raid Precaution (ARP) Service in which 1 had served during the war, were 
amalgamated to form the Civil Aid Services (CAS) in 1950. The CAS provided 

94 The Dragon and the Crown 

a wide range of services, including assisting during emergencies and disasters 
and helping the police in crowd control at public events. I had taken off my 
ARP uniform when Hong Kong fell into the hands of the Japanese, and in 1950 
1 put it back on again, but this time with a different set of insignia. Because of 
my work experience during the war, I was assigned to the Motor Transport Unit 
of the CAS. 

The colonial government, which had revised or introduced new ordinances 
to strengthen internal security periodically in the past, set up the Persons 
Registration Department in August 1949 in anticipation of the flood of refugees 
from the Mainland. Before the war, Chinese nationals enjoyed freedom of 
movement in and out of Hong Kong, with the residents of Guangzhou, Hong 
Kong and Macao treating the three cities as a single community irrespective of 
the differences in government jurisdiction. This changed after the department 
was set up. Every Hong Kong resident over twelve years old had to possess an 
Identity (ID) Card as proof of his or her resident status, and this ID Card soon 
became essential for obtaining regular employment, opening a bank account, 
enrolling in school or receiving social benefits. 

The Special Branch within the Police Department also stepped up its efforts 
to monitor political activities in the colony. As a precaution, those found to be 
politically active would be shadowed and eventually rounded up, whether they 
were pro-PRC or pro-ROC. They would then be detained in prison, or deported 
if they were not born in Hong Kong. Detainees and deportees included labour 
union leaders, teachers, school principals, members of the press, artists and film 
stars. With these harsh measures, political activities became restricted and the 
basic freedoms of belief, speech, assembly and association were much curtailed, 
leading to protests from the more liberal press. Even these restrictions, however, 
could not entirely prevent political violence from erupting. During preparations 
for the ROCs national day on 10 October 1956, pro-ROC residents in Kowloon 
clashed with pro-PRC residents over the hoisting of the ROC national flag, 
leading to riots and a significant loss of lives and properties. 

By then many Hong Kong people had become weary of political violence. 
When they contrasted the turmoil on the Mainland with the overall stability and 
business opportunities that Hong Kong had to offer, many chose the lesser ol 
two evils and adapted to life (albeit with restricted freedom) under colonial rule. 
The fear of mainland politics was accentuated after the Great Leap Forward in 
1958-60 when long queues formed outside post offices as people waited to mail 
parcels to their mainland relatives containing such daily necessities as rice. Hour. 
sugar, edible oil, dried meat, powered milk, vitamin pills, soap, toothbrushes 
and towels. With such hardships on the Mainland, the people of Hong Kong 
became even more convinced of the importance of political stability and the 
need to make money while they could in this "borrowed time" in a "borrowed 

Hong Kong after the War 95 

place". This belief would increasingly take root within the local community and 
permeate peoples collective consciousness over the next few decades. 

One of the earliest opportunities to make money was during the Korean 
War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953. In response to the UN embargo on the 
shipment of arms and strategic materials to North Korea and China, the Hong 
Kong government introduced the Importation and Exportation Ordinance, 
requiring importers to certify that their goods were for local consumption. As 
Hong Kong was one of China's key trading posts, local businessmen soon found 
numerous ways to circumvent the embargo and make huge profits. Some of them 
entered into tacit dealings with Guangdong officials, and elaborate smuggling 
systems were set up. These usually involved the use of motorized junks from 
both sides to transfer goods on the high seas, and marine police and customs 
officers were often bribed to look the other way. 

Other businesses just continued to trade with local companies that they 
knew were associated with the Chinese government without enquiring where 
the goods were destined. Dodwell Motors was one of them. I remember typing 
a sale and purchase contract for the sale of fifty Dodge trucks to the China 
Mutual Trading Company which, though registered as a Hong Kong company, 
reported to the PRCs Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade (now 
Ministry of Commerce); in all likelihood the trucks were then shipped to the 
Mainland. Indeed, I soon found out that some of my Kings College schoolmates 
and wartime interpreter comrades were working for China Mutual. Out of 
patriotism, they wanted to help New China acquire much-needed strategic 
materials, and found that their English language skills could be put to good 
use there. China Mutual closed its offices in the late 1950s and many of its 
operations and personnel were taken over by China Resources Company, an 
official arm of the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade. 

Eventually, some of the businessmen who smuggled goods to China were 
prosecuted, and others were blacklisted by the colonial and American authorities. 
They were banned from doing business with American companies and their US 
assets were frozen. To the PRC government these "patriotic merchants" were 
heroes, but to more cynical observers they were the "fat red cats". After the 
Korean War, many of these businessmen were awarded sole distributorships 
for valuable Chinese products in Hong Kong and made big fortunes, and those 
making the greatest contributions were even elected to the Peoples Political 
Consultative Conference or the National Peoples Congress. 

For Hong Kong as a whole, the UN embargo was a blessing in disguise. While 
it caused a period of economic stagnation, many Hong Kong businessmen were 
forced to look overseas for business opportunities and to start manufacturing 
for export. When Communist troops started to take over the Mainland during 
the late 1940s, many Chinese entrepreneurs fled to Hong Kong and brought 

96 The Dragon and the Crown 

capital, machinery, management skills and technical know-how to the colony. 
It was estimated that during 1946-50 some US$500 million in merchandise, 
securities, gold and foreign exchange poured into Hong Kong from Shanghai 
alone. After the PRC was established in October 1949, however, many former 
industrialists who had taken refuge in Hong Kong realized that they would 
not be returning to the Mainland, and decided to set up factories in the colony 
instead. Manufacturing activities therefore started to flourish, starting with 
textiles and garments and diversifying later to toys and plastics. By this time 
over a million refugees had fled to Hong Kong, and this provided a steady source 
of cheap labour for the nascent manufacturing industry. This led to the colony's 
rapid industrialization in the latter half of the 1950s, and changed its main 
economic focus from entrepot trade with the Mainland to manufacturing for 
export. With this new development, the economy took off and peoples living 
standards rose. 

My American Connection 

Before the war, it was commonly said that the institutions that mattered most in 
Hong Kong were "the Jockey Club, the Bank and the Governor, in that order". 
The Jockey Club was one of the earliest establishments in the colony and grew 
into an enormous business. The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, 
known as "the Bank", was the leading bank and issuer of bank notes in the 
colony for over a century and acted as Hong Kong's central bank despite its 
private ownership and non-government status. As for the Governor, he was 
influential, of course, but governors came and went whereas the Bank and the 
Jockey Club were as permanent as could be (as they still are to this day). 

However, after the war a fourth power emerged: the United States, which 
had surpassed Britain as a global power at the end of the war. As an international 
port and manufacturing centre. Hong Kong was highly exposed to the enhanced 
political, economic and military presence of the US in the region. The powerful 
Seventh Fleet which patrolled the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea 
frequently dropped anchor in Victoria Harbour; the US was the top destination 
for Hong Kong exports; and American corporations quickly became the biggest 
group of foreign investors in the colony. 

American products invaded the market. Right after the war. Hong Kong 
received large quantities of relief materials including food, medical supplies and 
other daily necessities from the US. Then, as trade resumed, American products 
such as fuel oil, motor vehicles, machinery, household appliances, chemicals 
and all kinds of attractive consumer goods flooded the market. People in Hong 
Kong were so impressed by the power of the atomic bomb that the) started 
to attach the name "atomic" to all new consumer products: atomic pen For 

Hong Kong after the War 97 

ballpoint pen; "atomic cloth" for synthetic fabric; "atomic radio" for transistor 
radio; and "atomic watch" for quartz watch. The "atomic fever" was on. 

American culture also conquered Hong Kong. Movies from Hollywood 
exposed people to the American lifestyle, and the new culture captured 
everyone's imagination. American films became highly popular; I was particularly 
enchanted by such films as Casablanca, Gone with the Wind and Fantasia. 

One of the highlights of Hong Kong's "love affair" with the US was the 
visit of the battleship USS New Jersey, the epitome of American might at that 
time. At 887 feet long with a displacement of forty-five thousand tons, the New 
jersey was the largest man-of-war Hong Kong had ever seen. Since Hong Kong 
harbour could not accommodate a ship of such size, she had to drop anchor 
in Junk Bay, the inlet just outside the harbour entrance of Lei Yue Mun Pass. 
To impress the might of the US military upon the people of Hong Kong and 
to emphasize the country's role in defending the "Free World", the American 
Consulate General and the US Navy Liaison Office made arrangements with 
the Hong Kong and Yaumati Ferry Company to transport people to visit the 
battleship. Thousands took the special chartered ferries and crowded aboard 
the mammoth ship, myself included (needless to say). The visit was indeed an 
eye-opener for military machine enthusiasts like me who marvelled at the ship's 
long deck and her sophisticated superstructure bristling with search lights, anti- 
aircraft guns, range finders and radar antennas. I was particularly impressed by 
the main armament — nine huge sixteen-inch calibre guns mounted three at 
a time in three heavily armoured turrets. From then on, US warships from the 
Seventh Fleet frequented Hong Kong for procurement and refuelling as well as 
for the "rest and recreation" (R&R) of the sailors. The bars of Wanchai where 
the sailors went onshore were often crowded with US servicemen during the 
Korean War and, later, during the Vietnam War. It was the setting for the movie 
The World of Suzie Wong. 

The American way of life had captivated me since my school days; I was 
attracted to the "Four Freedoms" articulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt: 
freedom of speech, freedom of belief, freedom from fear and freedom from want. 
I also had good experiences with my American colleagues during the war. When 
I heard about the political upheavals and increasing hardships that my brothers 
and relatives suffered on the Mainland, 1 started to think about emigrating to 
the US. 

By 1955, in light of the large number of refugees applying to emigrate, 
the American Consulate General in Hong Kong had set up an office to screen 
them and process applicants under the Refugee Relief Program (RRP). A friend 
who served as a wartime interpreter with me worked at the RRP office and 
suggested that 1 might stand a better chance of emigrating if I could get a job 
there and obtain a recommendation from the officer-in-charge. After eight years 

98 The Dragon and the Crown 

at Dodwell Motors I was becoming bored with routine office work and wanted 
a change, so I decided to send in an application. At the interview the head of 
the RRP liked my wartime record of working as an interpreter for US forces and 
hired me on the spot, so I started my new career at the American Consulate 

The Consulate General in Hong Kong was at that time the largest of the 
consulates in the US diplomatic service. It was larger than the US Embassy in 
Taiwan, and would have acquired the status of embassy had Hong Kong been 
an independent country. The Consulate General had an imposing presence on 
Garden Road, with a large L-shaped five-storey building, a parking lot at the 
back and a beautiful fountain and garden in front. The compound was United 
States territory, and if a political dissident escaped from the Mainland, succeeded 
in sneaking onto the premises and was offered asylum by the US government, 
there was nothing the Hong Kong police could do. Inside the garden stood a tall 
flag post flying the Stars and Stripes, and uniformed US marine guards would 
come out early in the morning and at sunset to perform the flag-rising and flag- 
lowering ceremonies. These guards would be fully armed in case of emergencies 
such as the riots in 1956 and 1967. 

My work at the Consulate General was far from pleasant, however. At 
the RRP we had to screen thousands of applicants and determine as best we 
could whether or not they were genuine political refugees. 1 felt uncomfortable 
with having to cross-examine people and decide their fate. The questions were 
primarily related to mainland politics: Did they have any involvement with the 
Communist Party? What were their impressions of the Chinese government 
and the Peoples Liberation Army? How did they think about China as whole? 
We also asked them for details of their experiences in political campaigns 
(such as the Land Reform and the Three-Ami and Five-Anti Campaigns), 
and the reasons why they were being persecuted. All applicants had to supply 
information regarding their relatives and friends in China, Hong Kong, the US 
and other parts of the world. We would then crosscheck the information with 
their families and relatives, and with any unrelated acquaintances that were 
given as references. Finally, we would evaluate each applicant based on his 
or her level of education, technical or professional skills, financial status and 
health, and then write up our report. 

Since the RRP was only a temporary programme and I grew increasingly 
uncomfortable with the work, soon after 1 joined I started looking for other job 
openings within the Consulate General. At that time, the American Consulate 
General in Hong Kong was one of the largest and most important US diplomatic 
posts in the world. Aside from the regular consular and commercial sections. 
there were the Political Section, the Economic Section, the United States 
Information Service (USIS), the army, navy and air force liaison offices, the 

Hong Kong after the War 99 

RRP office, and other specialized offices such as Treasury which monitored the 
embargo on the PRC. To them, Hong Kong was not just a small British colony 
— it was the contact point between the "Free World" and Communist China, 
and thus a strategic focus of US intelligence and propaganda activities. The USIS 
in particular was actively engaged in propaganda work, and its publications 
(such as the magazine Todays World) were mailed free-of-charge to schools, 
institutions and households in Hong Kong. Its library was well stocked with 
books, tapes and films which could be freely rented, and crews were on hand to 
bring the films for showing in schools, cinemas and community centres. "Voice 
of America", the USIS radio broadcast, was especially popular and therefore 
strictly banned on the Mainland. 

After working at the RRP office for slightly over a year, I applied for and 
secured a position as a translator at the Consulate General's US Air Force Liaison 
Office which, together with the army and navy liaison offices, was responsible 
for gathering intelligence on mainland China. My job was to gather and translate 
any information concerning the strength and movements of the Chinese Air 
Force. This could include any material on individual high ranking officers, the 
air forces organization and training, the number and types of airplanes, base 
locations, troop movements and military exercises. On a wider scope, I was 
also charged with gathering information on the development potential of the 
Chinese Air Force, including advances in science and mathematics; aerospace 
research and discoveries; aircraft, rocket and missile manufacturing and testing 
activities; improvements in transportation and telecommunications; and 
national economic planning. Other useful information included the location of 
major infrastructure such as harbours, power stations, oil fields, roads, bridges 
and railway lines. 

To gather all this information, the first thing I did at work in the morning 
was to read major newspapers from three categories: (1) the pro-PRC camp: 
Ta Kung, Wen Hui, New Evening Post and Cheng Bao; (2) the non-PRC camp: 
South China Morning Post, The Standard, Wah Kiu, Sing Tao, Kung Sheung, and 
Hong Kong Times; and (3) mainland papers: Peoples Daily, Guangming Daily, 
PLA Daily and local papers such as Nanjang Daily. During the early 1950s, no 
mainland paper could be exported since much of the news was considered to be 
state secrets. The only mainland papers available in Hong Kong were smuggled 
out, and the liaison office was willing to pay as much as hundreds of Hong Kong 
dollars for them. 

As well as the newspapers, I also looked for books that would give me 
the information I needed and quickly resumed my old habit of browsing in 
bookstores after work, but this time for a different purpose. Magazines such as 
Peoples Pictorial and PLA Pictorial, scientific textbooks and journals, and local 
maps and telephone directories could all prove useful for my work. At first I 

J 00 The Dragon and the Crown 

would pay for these publications and obtain reimbursement from the liaison 
office, but eventually the office itself would order directly from the bookshops. 
Our business became so important that even the PRC-affilia ted Joint Publishing 
Company would send us their monthly catalogues and give us a discount. The 
amount of material available became so overwhelming that in the end 1 could 
only translate the index or provide a brief summary before the publications 
were shipped back to the US to be translated and analyzed. 

In 1961, the air force, army and navy liaison offices merged into one, and 
I left the following year, having worked a total of six and a half years at the 
American Consulate General. In the end, I never leveraged my position to apply 
for emigration to the US. 1 was concerned about how I would adjust to life in a 
new country, and perhaps I was not yet ready to leave my home country; most 
probably, it was a mix of both. 

By the turn of the 1960s, I had grown weary of China-watching and wanted 
a change away from politics. Remembering Fathers attempt to introduce me to 
banking one summer long ago, I decided to try and follow in his footsteps. 


Hang Seng Bank 

New Career 

On a clear Monday morning in early December 1961, 1 took a two-hour leave 
from my job at the American Consulate General and walked down Garden Road 
to Queens Road Central for an interview with Lee Quo Wei, manager of Hang 
Seng Bank. Wearing my best dark-grey suit with a red tie and buoyed by the 
cool morning breeze, 1 was in a good mood and felt quite confident about my 

The consulate compound was on "Government Hill" and on stepping outside 
1 was in the heart of the colonial government. Behind the consulate was the 
Government House, the office and residence of the Hong Kong governor. Down 
the road to my left were the two grey office blocks of the Central Government 
Offices, the former Colonial Secretariat. Adjoining the offices and surrounded 
by trees and shrubs was the neo-Gothic St. Johns Cathedral, the cathedral of the 
Anglican diocese of Hong Kong since 1849 and the venue where the colonial 
government held all its official religious services. Across the street on a small 
hill overlooking the harbour was Flagstaff House, a Victorian mansion built in 
1846 which was the official residence and office of the Commander of the British 
Forces. (In 1978 the headquarters moved to a new building at the former site of 
HMS Tamar on the harbour front, and Flagstaff House became the Museum of 
Tea Ware for the display of antique Chinese teapots.) 

As I walked further down the road, however, I started to notice significant 
signs of the changes taking place in the colony's political and economic 
landscape. Down the slope from St. John's Cathedral was the site of the new 
twenty-six-storey Hilton Hotel, the first truly modern international hotel in 
Hong Kong and a major US investment. The hotel site was the former Murray 
Parade Ground where the British Empire used to show off its military might 
with pomp and circumstances. Turning left into Queen's Road Central, I passed 
the three tall granite buildings which housed the key financial powers in the 

102 The Dragon and the Crown 

colony. The first was Bank of China's soaring tower-like structure, completed 
in 1952 as a show of strength by the new PRC government and designed to 
be slightly taller than the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank Building next door. 
The massive Hongkong and Shanghai Bank Building was built in 1934 and had 
previously dominated the Central District. Further down the road was the tall, 
narrow headquarters of Chartered Bank (Hongkong Bank's colonial rival) which 
was completed several years after the Bank of China Building and, in turn, was 
designed to be the tallest of the three bank buildings. 

Along Queen's Road Central I passed a mixture of Victorian and pre- 
war buildings with arches and columns, and the tall, new multi-storey office 
buildings with plain facades and large windows which housed the offices of 
British and international companies. Up-market retail shops, restaurants and 
cinemas lined both sides of the street. However, once 1 passed the four-storey 
Central Market — the colony's main retail wet market — the scenery suddenly 
changed. The road narrowed markedly, and low-rise Chinese tenement houses 
stretched down both sides of the street as far as I could see. 

As I rubbed shoulders with the shoppers and workers along the street 
I became increasingly anxious as I realized that I really wanted the job with 
Hang Seng Bank. All my previous jobs had been associated with war and 
politics: interpreting for US forces during World War II, selling vehicles which 
I knew were smuggled to China during the Korean War, processing refugees 
for the American Consulate General, and most recently "China watching" — a 
euphemism for intelligence gathering — for the Americans. I longed for a change 
that would free me from war and political intrigues, and thought that this was 
my best opportunity to escape from it all. Little did I realize then that politics 
would continue to follow me in one form or another for the next twenty-two 
years of my career. 

Hang Seng Bank was located at 163-165 Queen's Road Central, in a white 
five-storey Western-style building with aluminium windows and an elevator. 
The tall modern building stood out from the three- and four-storey pre-war 
Chinese tenement houses in the neighbourhood. Shops selling garments, leather 
goods, pharmaceuticals, watches and clocks, jeweller)' and stationer) 7 lined the 
street, alongside several noisy Chinese restaurants and Hong Kong style cafes. A 
number of Chinese-owned banks, including Kwong On, Dao Heng, Wing Hang 
and Wing Lung, were also in the vicinity. 

Inside the banking hall, some twenty employees were busy talking to 
customers or doing calculations behind the counters under a flood of white 
fluorescent light. The steady clatters of the abacuses mixed with the rhythmic 
churning of modern calculating machines. This meeting of East and West was 
also reflected in how the staff dressed: some wore ties and dark grey or blue 
Western suits, while others wore loose-fitting grey Chinese suits with high 

Hang Seng Bank 103 

stiff collars. This mingling of different periods and cultures, I would later find, 
permeated the entire bank all the way up to the senior management. 

Lee Quo Wei, who wore black-rimmed glasses and a well-tailored dark- 
blue Western suit, was the modern Westernized face of the bank. In contrast to 
the white painted walls and small wooden or metal desks in the banking hall, 
Lee's second-floor office had brown teak wall panels with a large rosewood desk 
at one end and a dark brown leather sofa set at the other. It was unmistakably 
a bank managers room, which only the more important clients would enter. 
Standing close to six feet tall, with a high forehead and dark complexion, Lee 
(or Q.W as many called him) did not resemble the average southern Chinese. 
We sat opposite each other and, as he glared at me through his large black- 
rimmed glasses and started to speak rapidly in a slightly high-pitched voice, I 
saw Lee as the assertive and demanding boss that 1 had expected. 

"Why do you want to join Hang Seng Bank?" he asked me point blank. 

Fortunately, I had come prepared. My brother Man Kwong, who worked 
in Dah Chong Hong (which was affiliated with the bank) and knew Lee as a 
colleague, had sent me a detailed letter describing Lee and advising me how to 
handle the interview. 

"My father was a traditional Chinese banker," I said. "He expected me to 
continue the family tradition and I would like to carry out his wishes." 

Lee did not comment, but 1 felt that I had hit the right note. 

"Besides," 1 quickly continued. "Chinese employees in foreign firms are 
considered 'second class' and my promotion prospects are limited. I want a 
change so that 1 can advance my career." 

Lee still glared at me with little expression on his face but his stern looks 
seemed to have softened somewhat. I hastened to deliver my punch line. 

"Hang Seng Bank is a fast growing bank and I believe there will be many 
opportunities for me if I work hard." 

Lee slowly nodded his agreement, but he was not about to let me off so easily. 

"It will take you a long time to adjust here," he said. "You only worked for 
foreigners in the past, but Hang Seng is a Chinese company." 

He paused for emphasis before continuing. 

"However, there may be an opportunity for you. We are expanding our 
business and need to know more about Hong Kong and the world market. We 
will need someone fluent in both English and Chinese to do some research and 
analysis. Can you do this?" 

"Yes I can," 1 replied emphatically before he could think of any more 
questions. Lee had already seen my resume and he knew that I was qualified for 
the position. 

"I will do my best to live up to your expectations," 1 quickly added. 

Lee finally seemed satisfied. 

104 The Dragon and the Crown 

"Remember this," he added before letting me off the hook. "To be a good 
banker, a good education is necessary but not sufficient. Experience and human 
relations are more important." To emphasize his point, Lee quoted a well-known 
couplet from A Dream of Red Mansions, a classical Chinese novel: "A grasp of 
worldly affairs is genuine knowledge; the understanding of human relations is 
true learning." 

"Don't let me down," he said, looking at me hard. "Report to work as soon 
as you can." 

1 was elated at the opportunity to start a new career, but 1 also realized that 
I would be facing a new challenge since I had never worked in a Chinese-run 
business before except for my very brief apprenticeship at Tang Tin Fuk Yinhao 
before the war. I would have to learn how to interact with Q.W. Lee and the other 
senior managers in Hang Seng Bank. Moreover, my new bosses would expect me 
to be totally conversant with both Chinese and English, and I needed to polish 
up my Chinese, which I had neglected since leaving school. Nevertheless, 1 was 
eager to start my new job. When 1 resigned from the Air Force Liaison Office my 
boss, Colonel Daniel Tatum, was reluctant to see me go, but he eventually sent 
me off with a highly complimentary letter of recommendation. 

1 started work at Hang Seng Bank in February 1962. My "office" consisted 
of a dark brown wooden desk about three feet wide, a wooden chair, a Smith- 
Corona typewriter and some stationery. This was to become the Research 
Department of which I would be the head and, for some time, the only member 
of staff. 

My first assignment was to translate articles from English economic and 
financial journals into Chinese for the top management: Chairman Ho Sin Hang, 
Vice Chairman Leung Chik Wai, General Manager Ho Tim, and other senior 
officials of the bank. Q.W. Lee, who was the only senior manager educated in 
English, did not need the translations. 

Then, perhaps to put me to the test, 1 was asked for a report on the motor 
car industry in Hong Kong which Q.W Lee needed because Hang Sengs 
affiliated trading company, Dah Chong Hong, was thinking of acquiring the 
distributorship for General Motors in Hong Kong and needed information on 
the market. I drew heavily on my previous work experience at Dodwell Motors, 
which distributed the American- and Canadian-built Dodge and the British-built 
Morris in Hong Kong and south China, and spoke extensively with my contacts 
in the industry. My report was well received. Dah Chong Hong proceeded with 
its acquisition and later acquired Japanese vehicle distributorships as well, 
making it one of the leading vehicle distributors in Hong Kong. 

The real test during this initial period, however, was writing the bank's 30th 
anniversary report which was planned for release in December 1962. Digging 
deep into the bank's archives in a dark corner of the building, I sifted through 

Hang Seng Bank 105 

piles of documents, almost choking from the dust that they threw up. The 
crackling pages were yellowed at the fringes, and the Chinese ink-brush writing 
on some of the documents was barely discernable. I gathered what information 
1 could and then tried to find out more by interviewing older bank employees. 
I did not get a chance to interview Chairman Ho, but Ho Tim, who was general 
manager, agreed to talk to me. For a young, new employee of the bank this was 
almost unheard of, but it reflected Ho Tim's truly congenial relationship with his 
staff and colleagues. 

Ho Tim was slim, fair and slight in built, but beneath his dark, slightly 
tilted eyebrows his bright sharp eyes exuded the energy of a quick and active 
mind. Having joined Hang Seng at its founding in 1933, he was one of the 
most senior bank officers and his reputation for maintaining good customer 
relationships and bringing in business was legendary. As I sat down on the sofa 
opposite him to explain my mission I started to stammer, but he quickly put me 
at ease. "Very good. So you're going to write the history of the bank," he said 
with his characteristic broad smile. "It's always good to see young people taking 
up important tasks. Now where shall I begin?" 

So Ho Tim talked away, his eyes dancing and his hands gesturing lightly in 
the air. He talked about how the Nationalist government trucked crates of Yuan 
notes to Hong Kong to exchange for foreign currency during the Anti-Japanese 
War, and how Hang Seng profited from the exchange. Then he recalled how he 
applied to import 20,000 taels of gold one day after the war, instead of the usual 
2,000 taels, which enabled Hang Seng to corner the market when the Hong 
Kong government subsequently stopped all gold imports. I was awe struck and 
could not take notes fast enough. 

After many drafts and revisions, Chairman Ho finally reviewed and 
cleared the 30th anniversary report. It was published as a brochure in both 
Chinese and English and distributed to the bank's friends and customers as 
well as to the media in a gala event on 24 December 1962 to mark the bank's 

The report was a success. Soon afterwards, Lee obtained the Chairman and 
Ho Tim's approval to officially set up the Research Department and for me to 
head it. 

Humble Beginnings 

In many ways, Hang Seng's 30th anniversary marked its coming of age as a 
modern commercial bank. Starting from its humble beginnings as a small 
yinhao, the bank's remarkable growth and development over three decades bore 
the unmistakable stamp of its chairman Ho Sin Hang. 

106 The Dragon and the Crown 

Hang Seng first opened for business in Hong Kong on 3 March 1933 and 
the firm's original founders were Ho Sin Hang, Lam Bing Yim and Sheng Tsun 
Lin who both had businesses in Shanghai, and Leung Chik Wai who, like Ho, 
started his own business in Guangzhou. Each was a successful financier in his 
own right during the 1920s, but civil war and the threat of Japanese invasion in 
the early 1930s forced them to leave the Mainland in the hope of finding a safe 
haven in Hong Kong. The British colony was then politically stable and allowed 
private businesses to operate on a laissez-faire basis with minimal restrictions, 
an advantage which was not lost on the founders. After arriving in Hong Kong, 
Ho, Lam, Sheng and Leung came to know each other through their gold trading 
and soon became friends and business partners. 

Hang Seng started business as a yinhao at 70 Wing Lok Street, a narrow 
street in the Sheung Wan area lined with traditional Chinese tenements and 
bustling with the business activities of bankers, traders and retailers of all 
description. Lam was the chairman, Ho the general manager and Leung his 
deputy. About eleven staff crammed into the bank's eight hundred square foot 
premises. There was so little space that a customer had to take only three steps 
from the entrance to the bank counter. The four characters of the bank's name 
— Hang Seng Yin Hao — were boldly written in black on a large wooden panel 
hanging across the front of the building, and on the two pillars supporting the 
upper floor balcony on each side were smaller Chinese characters describing the 
bank's services: remittances, exchange and gold trading. The Chinese Gold and 
Silver Exchange Society, the focal point of local Chinese banking activities, was 
nearby in Masa Street. 

In the tradition of its founders, Hang Seng quickly became an active gold 
trader, but it also expanded into the lucrative remittance and currency exchange 
business between Hong Kong and the Mainland. Like other yinhao, it provided 
these services to Chinese traders in textiles, pharmaceuticals, rice and dried sea 
products, and performed a role that foreign international banks were reluctant 
to play. Foreign banks at that time transacted primarily with foreign companies. 
and dealt with the Chinese community only through their compradors — 
English-speaking Chinese who would guarantee the banks' loans to the yinhao 
and handle all local Chinese business. 

Hang Seng was started up as a precaution against war, but paradoxically 
the company made its first major fortune from the start of the war. When the 
Japanese invaded China in 1937, everyone who could afford it rushed to bu) 
and hoard gold, and a flurry of remittances came to Hong Kong from Shanghai. 
Hankou, Guangzhou and other major cities in China all looking for a safe ha\ en. 
Hang Seng benefited handsomely from these activities. Thanks to the partners' 
business connections on the Mainland, the bank also secured an active role 
exchanging Yuan for foreign currencies on behalf of the Nationalist government. 

Hang Seng Bank 107 

which needed foreign exchange to finance its war against Japan. According to 
Ho Tim, Yuan banknotes used to arrive in Hong Kong by the truckloads, and the 
profits to be made were enormous. 

After the Japanese occupied Hong Kong in December 1941, the founding 
partners and their staff sought refuge in Macao and continued to trade gold in 
a small office under the name of Wing Wah Yinhao. They moved back to Hong 
Kong after the war ended in 1945, and re-started Hang Sengs operations at 181 
Queens Road Central, which were larger premises that the bank had purchased 
before the war. 

Q.W. Lee, who had worked with some of the founders in Macao, joined 
Hang Seng the following year. After leaving his native village of Kaiping for 
Hong Kong at a young age, Lee attended St. Josephs College, a Catholic English 
secondary school. He left school a year before he was due to graduate in order to 
support his family and joined China State Bank as a trainee. With his knowledge 
of English and commercial banking, Lee was assigned the specific task of dealing 
with foreign gold traders at Hang Seng, and soon became an indispensable 
member of the management team. 

The intensification of the civil war between the Nationalist government and the 
Communists again brought the bank great opportunities for trading gold. Chinas 
economy was still recovering from the devastations of war and the Nationalist 
government needed to raise funds to fight the Communists. Inflation skyrocketed 
and to stabilize the currency the government instituted the Gold Yuan in 1948, 
valued at four Gold Yuan to one US Dollar. All Chinese National Currency (CNC) 
previously in circulation in the market had to be turned over to the government at 
an exchange value of one Gold Yuan to three million CNC. By 1949, the Central 
Bank of China was issuing bank notes in denominations of one hundred thousand 
Gold Yuan for everyday use. Completely losing faith in the national currency and 
the Nationalist governments ability to control inflation, many businesses and 
individuals resorted to holding gold, against regulations. Some tried to speculate 
in the Hong Kong gold market through the yinhao. With its founders' business 
connections and trading expertise, Hang Seng executed many of these transactions 
and quickly became the doyen of the Hong Kong gold market, so practically all 
gold traders had to follow its lead. Ho Sin Hang won recognition as the authority 
behind Hang Sengs success and was elected as chairman of the Chinese Gold and 
Silver Exchange Society, serving from 1946 to 1949. 

At the height of the firm's success, however, historical events again intervened 
and forced Hang Seng to take a new course. When the Korean War started in 
1950, the United Nations imposed an embargo on all trade with the PRC; all 
gold trading, currency exchange and remittances involving the Mainland came 
to a halt, and the bank lost the mainstay of its business overnight. The founders 
realized that the business must adjust to the new political situation. 

1 08 The Dragon and the Crown 

Ho, who became the group's new leader after Lam Bing Yim passed away 
in 1949, was acutely aware that times were changing for the yinhao and 
wanted to explore the alternatives. Between 1950 and 1952, Ho toured the 
US, Canada, Southeast Asia, South Africa and Europe, and visited banks and 
financial institutions in seventeen cities (including New York, Los Angeles, 
Havana, Lima, Tokyo, London and Paris) in search of new ideas and business 
opportunities. Q.W. Lee accompanied Ho and his wife on these tours and acted 
as Ho's personal secretary and interpreter. At the end of his tour, Ho decided 
that Hang Seng should still concentrate its business in Hong Kong but would 
have to become an international commercial bank. 

On 5 December 1952, Hang Seng was incorporated as a limited-liability 
company. Ho Sin Hang was elected chairman of the board with Leung Chik 
Wai as vice-chairman, and Ho Tim was appointed general manager. After its 
incorporation, Hang Seng upgraded itself from a yinhao speculating in gold and 
currencies to a full-fledged commercial bank that could finance international 
trade, take deposits from the general public and make loans. The change 
was timely. Mainland industrialists sought a safe haven in Hong Kong after 
the communist takeover, over a million refugees fled to the colony, and the 
conditions were ripe for the manufacturing industry to take off. As factories 
sprang up throughout Hong Kong the demand for financing soared. 

International banks such as The Hongkong and Shanghai Bank (later 
known as Hongkong Bank, and now HSBC) and Chartered Bank (now Standard 
Chartered Bank) abandoned their comprador system and started to deal directly 
with the larger and better-known Shanghainese textile groups such as Windsor, 
South Sea, Nanyang and Nan Fung. Hang Seng, on the other hand, mainly took 
care of smaller businesses within the Guangdong community, including the 
manufacturers of garments, toys, plastics, metal products and electronics that 
would later spearhead Hong Kong's economic growth. As most ol these small 
businesses did not have a proper balance sheet and could offer little financial 
data to support their loan requests, many of the bank's initial loans were based 
on personal relationships and trust. Many of these small businesses later grew 
into large corporations and formed the backbone of the bank's corporate 
customer base. In the late 1960s, real estate developers also became clients and 
stan-up firms such as Sun Hung Kai, New World and Henderson remained loyal 
customers of the bank when they later became major corporations. 

With an expanding business. Hang Seng soon outgrew its second location 
at 181 Queen's Road Central and in 1953 it moved down the road to numbers 
163-165, the five-storey building where 1 was interviewed by Q.W Lee. The 
new headquarters prominently displayed the bank's name in English — "Hang 
Seng Bank Ltd." — across the main entrance. Hong Kong's Chinese financial 

Hang Seng Bank 109 

district as a whole had shifted east from Wing Lok Street, moving closer to 
the Central District as commercial banks and Westernized enterprises replaced 
yinhao and traditional Chinese shops. Compared to Wing Lok Street, this part of 
Queen's Road Central was wider, with more traffic and a number of new multi- 
storey buildings on either side of the road. In 1960, the bank went public and 
officially changed its Chinese name from Hang Seng Yin Hao to Hang Seng Yin 
Hang ("Hang Seng Bank"). The change in that last character was the milestone 
marking the company's re-birth as a modern commercial bank. 

To enhance Hang Seng's new social status further and expand its business 
network, the founding partners also invited a number of dignitaries to join the 
board. Among them were Kwok Chan, ex-comprador of Banque de LTndochine 
and a member of the Legislative Council, and Tang Shiu Kin, chairman and 
managing director of Kowloon Motors Bus Co Ltd. 

Kwok Chan inherited the post of comprador from his father Kwok Siu Lau 
and was the last generation of Hong Kong's compradors. He was married to the 
daughter of Chan Lim Pak, the once prominent comprador of The Hongkong 
and Shanghai Bank, who was a cousin of my wife Wing Kin, albeit much older. 

Tang Shiu Kin was, of course, my maternal uncle, and he was not a little 
surprised to see me working at Hang Seng. I spotted him in his hallmark grey 
Chinese gown during the bank's 30th anniversary celebrations and went to greet 
him. At first he did not seem to recognize me, but when Q.W Lee came over 
and introduced me to him as the bank's newly hired research officer, Uncle Shiu 
Kin quickly broke into a smile and shook my hand. "Sze Kwong is my nephew!" 
he said to Lee. "I hope he will serve the bank well." I immediately thought of 
Father. He alone would appreciate the bitter-sweet irony of this encounter. 

When Hang Seng celebrated its 30th anniversary on Christmas Eve 1962, 
it also celebrated yet another move, to a brand new building facing the harbour 
at 77 Des Voeux Road Central. The new building, twenty-two storeys high with 
a steel frame, aluminium trimming, and grey and green glass curtain walls, was 
the tallest and most modern in Hong Kong at the time and a fitting symbol of 
the bank's successful transition to modern banking. By this time, Hang Seng had 
total assets of HKS355 million and a staff of four hundred, making it the largest 
Chinese-owned commercial bank in Hong Kong. Echoing Confucius, Chairman 
Ho said at the celebrations: "At thirty, we stand on our own feet." 

The Teachings of Chairman Ho 

Hang Seng was one of the few yinhao which succeeded in making the transition 
to commercial banking and continued to thrive after the war. Uncle Wai Chow 
and Father's banking businesses went bankrupt successively during the 1930s 
because of over-speculation. Gung Gung Tang Chi N gong's Tang Tin Fuk Yinhao 

110 The Dragon and the Crown 

thrived on the strengths of the property market during the 1930s, but then had 
to close down during the 1950s due to increased competition from new Chinese 
commercial banks. 

Hang Sengs success in continuously adapting and expanding its business 
was in many ways due to the vision and business acumen of Chairman Ho. 
Short and stocky with a large head and a kindly round face, Ho did not fit the 
stereotype of an awe-inspiring bank chairman. He had started to wear Western 
suits but it was clear that, unlike Lee, he was not too particular about the 

Despite his unassuming and often folksy appearance, Chairman Ho 
commanded great respect among his staff, and not only because of his business 
success. He treated his employees not as subordinates but as his pupils, giving 
talks and sharing with them his banking knowledge, philosophy and vision. 
A firm believer of the philosophy of Confucius, Ho tried to live up to the 
great teachers ideals: "He who wishes to be established assists others to be 
established; he who wishes to be successful assists others to be successful." This 
teacher-pupil relationship between him and his staff was one of the defining 
influences behind Hang Seng's drive towards commercial success. Aside from 
giving talks, Ho would often stroll through the bank and speak with the staff, 
making use of every opportunity to teach them something. Everyone in the 
bank called him Uncle Sin, both out of respect and because of their genuine 

Chairman Ho wanted to build Hang Seng into a modern commercial bank, 
but at the same time he also placed great emphasis on traditional Chinese 
values. A native of Panyu in southern Guangdong, he attended only four years of 
sishu — traditional Chinese schools which taught the Four Books (the classical 
teachings of Confucius and Mencius). Although he had to drop out of school at 
fourteen to become a shop attendant in Guangzhou, he seemed to have taken 
the classical teachings to heart, and used them freely to formulate his own 
moral outlook and business philosophy. Ho tried to impart his philosophy to 
his employees and, in so doing, created a unique Hang Seng culture. 

Chairman Hos teachings were summarized in a booklet entitled A Talk 
about My Life Experience which was distributed to all staff members. 1 remember 
some of the teachings to this day: 

Your success or failure in life depends upon the strength of your will. 
A strong will allows you to overcome difficulties and succeed in your 
undertakings. However, knowledge and experience are also important, 
and a lack of either would be a major weakness. You will become 
susceptible to outside influence or material temptations, and will waver 
and become indecisive. This is the major cause of failure in one's career. 

Hang Seng Bank 111 

Young people lack experience and are therefore more impulsive and 
easily offended. When they encounter setbacks, which are inevitable in 
life, they become angry and will often resort to verbal abuse or even 
physical violence. This not only upsets the people around them but also 
harms their relationships with other people. In human relationships, 
therefore, one must start by cultivating oneself; the keys to success are 
patience and forgiveness. 

Ho also taught himself most of what he knew about banking and customer 
relationships. As a result, he was a firm believer in life-long learning as the 
key to success, and promoted it enthusiastically within the bank. When Hang 
Seng was a small yinhao with only a dozen employees, Ho used to talk to 
them individually at the beginning of each Lunar New Year, reviewing their 
performance and telling them in detail where they needed to improve. Later, as 
the bank expanded, he would talk at length to all staff as a group. When Hang 
Seng became a commercial bank in 1952, Ho set up regular training courses to 
teach the staff modern banking skills, and some of these courses were opened to 
the public starting in 1963 under the banks "Elementary Banking Programme". 
The programme, which was free, was subsequently expanded and culminated in 
the opening of the Hang Seng School of Commerce in 1980. With funding from 
the bank, Chairman Ho and other Hang Seng directors, the school was able to 
offer free tuition to its students. 

For Chairman Ho learning was not confined to acquiring banking skills 
but also involved constantly improving one's moral values. He held seminars 
for his managers and staff on topics like honesty, integrity, trust and health, and 
above all on how they could improve themselves. Standing proudly under the 
spotlight on the red carpeted platform of the bank's auditorium, Ho would often 
quote from the Classics: "If you can one day renovate yourself, do so from day 
to day. Yea, let there be daily renovation"; or "Is it not pleasant to learn with a 
constant perseverance and application?" 

After attending his seminars, like many other bank employees I would 
be touched and encouraged by his words and would secretly resolve to work 
harder and improve myself. 

Regardless of our background or position, Chairman Ho treated all of us 
as his students and played a pivotal role in helping the bank build a highly 
motivated, rapidly expanding and increasingly professional staff. To support its 
growth, Hang Seng hired many trainees from English secondary schools during 
the 1950s, and later started to employ university graduates in the 1960s. In 
addition, the bank also hired many mid-career professionals as "special officers" 
for their expertise in areas such as electronic data processing, public relations, 
personnel training and public security; I was hired as a "special officer". 
Despite this infusion of new talent, however, the bank did not lay off any of 

112 The Dragon and the Crown 

its employees. Some of the older staff from the bank's yinhao days who did 
not receive much formal education, but who had developed valuable business 
experience and contacts, were assigned to the Public Relations Department; 
others stayed behind the counters and worked as cashiers or vault-keepers. 

Chairman Ho was also instrumental in building Hang Seng's unique market 
image as a modern bank caring for and servicing the Chinese community. Hang 
Seng was faced with two obstacles in its transition to commercial banking: the 
lack of modern banking knowledge and a relatively small market share. Ho 
decided to overcome the latter hurdle by making full use of the bank's biggest 
strength, its Chinese culture. The bank targeted as its customers traditional 
Chinese merchants and lower-middle working classes who spoke little or no 
English and knew less about banking — in short, those who were likely to be 
turned away or feel intimidated by the larger international banks. 

To win over these customers, Chairman Ho wanted Hang Seng to provide 
the best services that a bank could offer, so he wrote these instructions for us to 

Greet your customers with an amiable smile, 

And salute them by calling their names out loud. 

Perform your duties expeditiously, 

And be sincere when rendering your services. 

Always be humble towards your customers, 

And be brief and concise when answering their questions. 

Be considerate of the needs of your customers, 

And bow and thank them for their patronage. 

This motto was publicized widely within the bank and disseminated in 
leaflets, broadcasts and talks at all levels from the chairman on down. It became 
known as Chairman Ho's Motto and every member of staff knew it by heart. The 
policy proved highly successful and within a short time Hang Seng had built a 
reputation for its courteous staff and the quality of the services it provided to 
Chinese customers. All forms and brochures were clearly printed in Chinese, 
and staff stationed in the banking hall would bow and greet all customers, big 
and small, who walked in, help them fill in the forms, answer their questions 
and walk them to the door when they left. 

"We may not be the bank that makes the most profit, but we must be the 
bank that provides the best service," Ho would often say. 

He firmly believed that by providing good service and helping its customers 
prosper, the bank would prosper too. His prophecy came true, and by the 1970s 
Hang Seng had grown to become the second largest bank in Hong Kong in terms 
of customer deposits. 

Hang Seng Bank 113 

A Bank with Chinese Characteristics 

Although I took Chairman Ho's teachings to heart and admired him for his vision 
and leadership, 1 never felt entirely comfortable with his methods. Perhaps my 
discomfort was due to my Western education and experience of working with 
the Americans, or perhaps it was because his methods resembled too closely the 
political practices on the Mainland. 

During the 1960s, particularly during the Cultural Revolution, people on 
the Mainland had to recite Chairman Mao's quotations almost every day. Party 
cadres and workers were urged to study Mao Zedong Thought and hold regular 
"criticism and self-criticism" meetings to discuss their mistakes and rectify 
them. Similarly, during the same period the staff of Hang Seng Bank had to 
learn Chairman Ho's Motto by heart and recite it from memory. They were also 
encouraged to study the teachings of Chairman Ho and to hold regular "work 
improvement" meetings to review their work and performance. 

Perhaps the Chinese tradition of loyalty to the emperor translated readily 
into loyalty to a supreme leader, as was the case with Chairman Mao. Within 
Hang Seng, many employees (including young recruits) listened faithfully 
to Chairman Hos teachings and would obey his orders unconditionally. The 
Communist Chinese slogan "Whatever Chairman Mao says is right" was echoed 
by Hang Seng's own slogan "Whatever Chairman Ho says is right." While some 
used the slogan in a light-hearted way, others took it seriously, which made 
me feel uneasy; I could take comfort only in the thought that if Ho were the 
equivalent of an emperor, he was at least a benevolent and enlightened one. 

While the culture of Hang Seng Bank was not exactly despotic, it was 
unmistakably patriarchal. Starting from its early days as a yinhao, many of 
the staff came from the extended families of the four founding partners: Lam, 
Ho, Leung and Sheng. Later, when Leung Kau Kui and Q.W Lee joined the 
board, many of their relatives also came to work for the bank. In its early years, 
especially, Hang Seng was a congregation of princelings, siblings, in-laws, 
cousins and clansmen. This nepotistic circle then expanded to include former 
schoolmates, former colleagues and good friends. 

I myself was part of this expanded group. My elder brother Man Kwong 
attended Pui Ching Middle School in Hong Kong and Guangzhou with Chairman 
Ho's son Ho Tse Cheuk, Mrs. Ho's brother Lee Chiu Po, and Lo Hung Kwan 
who would later become Chairman Ho's son-in-law Lee Chiu Po, who was Man 
Kwong's best friend in Pui Ching, gave Man Kwong the necessary introduction 
to join Dah Chong Hong, Hang Seng's affiliated trading company, in 1948; many 
years later, Man Kwong in turn introduced me to Hang Seng's management. 

To emphasize the close relationships found in a large family, the staff 
addressed each other and even their superiors in intimate terms. As with members 

114 The Dragon and the Crown 

of an extended family, when addressing another employee who was more senior 
or older, we would call him "uncle". When addressing a peer or another co- 
worker of about the same age, we would call him "brother". Following this rule, 
I called Ho Sin Hang "Uncle Sin",' Leung Kau Kui "Uncle Kau", Leung Chik 
Wai "Uncle Chik", and Ho Tim "Uncle Tim". As for Q.W. Lee, who belongs to 
my generation, I called him "Brother Quo Wei" although he is much older, and 
likewise Man Kwong and Lee addressed each other as brothers. 

True to Lees admonition during our job interview, it took me some time 
to adjust to the bank's traditional Chinese mode of operation. Fortunately, I 
had the help of Man Kwok Lau, my schoolmate at Kings College and now my 
immediate superior, to show me the ropes. 

Having joined Hang Seng soon after the war, in 1946, Man was already 
a sub-manager reporting to Lee by the time 1 joined. Quiet, thoughtful, soft 
spoken and extremely cautious, Man never replied to any question immediately, 
preferring to give the answer thorough consideration before committing himself. 
It could be quite frustrating to speak to him over the telephone since there 
would often be long periods of silence before I could get any response out of 

Man was slight in build and his fair, bespectacled and scholarly appearance 
belied the weight he bore in modernizing the bank. While Q.W. Lee played a 
key role in introducing the concept of modern commercial banking to senior 
management, Man was primarily responsible for much of its implementation and 
designed the operating systems for most of the bank's departments, including 
accounting, auditing, personnel, customer services, deposits, mortgage loans, 
trade finance, foreign exchange and credit control. 

Intelligent and hard working, Man had a reputation as the "walking 
dictionary" of Hang Seng. He supervised the drafting of most of the banks 
important documents, including business letters and contracts, to ensure they 
always met with the board's approval. So pleased was he with Man's performance 
that Uncle Sin used to say: "Kwok Lau is my best pupil ever!" 

Man also oversaw economic research, although 1 answered directly to 
Lee in actual practice. Perhaps because of this relationship, Man saw me as a 
colleague rather than a subordinate and counselled me on how to navigate my 
way within the bank. Over the years, he had learned to survive within the bank's 
patriarchal structure by being patient and, most of all, tactful in dealing with 
senior management. "It's very important that the seniors do not lose 'face' in 
front of juniors," he said. "The boss has to call the shots, not the subordinate." 

Man was particularly instructive in helping me handle demands from Lee. 
since he knew from hard experience that Lee wanted only positive responses 
from his staff. "When Mr. Lee gives you an order, you should try to cam- it out 
immediately and in the way he wishes," he said. "Don't hesitate, and don't argue 

Hang Seng Bank 1 15 

with him. Never say 'it can't be done'. Instead, you should say 'I'll try' or 'I'll give 
it thorough consideration and give you an answer later'." 

This was all good advice, but having worked only for foreign bosses in my 
previous jobs I was used to expressing my own opinions and was either too 
proud or too naive to suppress them. As a result, I always got into trouble and 
Lee would give me a solid scolding whenever I contradicted him, to the extent 
that I became so frustrated that I seriously considered resigning. "I really can't 
take this anymore," I blurted to Man one day. "Lee is too unreasonable. Nothing 
I ever do is good enough. I'm going to quit." 

Ever dependable, Man calmed me down and made me see my troubles 
in a new light. "If your boss scolds you all the time but keeps on giving you 
assignments, that means he knows that you are capable," he said. "He actually 
cannot spare you and he expects you to continue to serve him. If this is the case, 
you are on your way to success." 

Sure enough, Lee continued to assign me new projects. My confidence 
returned and, true to Man's prediction, my banking career steadily took off. 

Hang Seng Newsletter 

After successfully completing the 30th anniversary report in 1962, my next 
project was to publish a weekly newsletter in Chinese. Having established a 
firm foundation for Hang Seng in Hong Kong, Chairman Ho started to look 
for greater business opportunities overseas. Before the war, remittances from 
overseas Chinese had played a critical role in the development of the Chinese 
economy by providing much needed capital and foreign exchange, but after 
the Communist takeover many overseas Chinese had stopped sending their 
money to the Mainland. Ho believed that the bank should try to capture these 
remittances in Hong Kong, where the prospering economy should offer attractive 
investment opportunities for overseas Chinese. 

Soon after celebrating its 30th anniversary, Hang Seng decided to launch an 
"Overseas Chinese Friendship Mission" to develop this business. To support the 
mission, Chairman Ho suggested publishing a weekly Chinese newsletter, to 
be called the Hang Seng Newsletter, to inform overseas Chinese about business 
opportunities in the colony and promote the services that Hang Seng could 
provide. My research department was tasked with producing the newsletter. 

Although I was excited by the opportunity, I was somewhat at a lost how 
to proceed since 1 had little experience in news gathering, feature writing or 
editing. However, both Q.W. Lee and Man urged me to accept the challenge, 
promising to assign more staff to assist me. 

"We had no knowledge and experience in modern banking when we joined 
Hang Seng twenty years ago," Lee said, "but look what we have achieved!" 

116 The Dragon and the Crown 

"Don't belittle yourself," Man said to me in private. "Your translation and 
report-writing work in the American Consulate have already proved that you 
can be a good journalist." 

At first I thought that they were just trying to be polite and encouraging, 
but upon further reflection 1 felt that they had a point. To show his support, 
Man offered to act as the newsletters editor of last resort, and thanks to his 
commitment the newsletter came off the press with little hitch. 

Thousands of copies of the Hang Seng Newsletter were airmailed free of 
charge to the homes and shops of overseas Chinese all over the world to herald 
visits by the "Overseas Chinese Friendship Mission". General Manager Ho 
Tim led the mission, which covered major cities in North, Central and South 
America, Australia, Europe and South Africa. However, the mission left out 
Southeast Asia countries, since overseas Chinese in this region were mainly from 
Fujian Province and their banking needs were already well serviced by financial 
institutions owned by their fellow Fujianese. The mission was an overall success, 
and Ho Tim was able to make friends and sell Hang Sengs services in many 
parts of the world. After returning to Hong Kong, he recommended setting up 
an Overseas Chinese Department to service the investment and financing needs 
of overseas Chinese clients, and to help them handle their travel needs and 
immigration formalities. 

Unfortunately, the interest of overseas Chinese in Hang Seng Bank waned 
after the bank runs in Hong Kong in 1965, and especially after the PRC 
economy opened up towards the end of the 1970s. In the end, the results of 
Ho Tim's odyssey fell short of expectations, the Overseas Chinese Department 
was dissolved, and publication of the Hang Seng Newsletter was discontinued. 
Another publication, the Hang Seng Economic Quarterly, took its place in 1979 
with a new focus on developments in China. 

The 1965 Bank Runs 

By the time I joined Hang Seng Bank in 1962, the commercial banking industry 
had just recovered from the bank run of the previous year and the market had 
started to boom again. Little did 1 suspect that within a few years we would face 
another, even bigger crisis. 

When Hang Seng converted itself into a commercial bank in 1952, Hong 
Kong had already started to industrialize rapidly. The flourishing factories 
provided more employment, which led to a marked increase in living standards, 
more demand for property and a rise in equity investments. Financings for 
home purchases, commercial and industrial developments and share purchases 
were all in great demand. 

Hang Seng Bank 117 

Banks in Hong Kong expanded aggressively to take advantage of the rising 
demand, and competition was keen. Many started to finance margin trading 
in shares, and some even offered unsecured overdraft facilities to finance the 
purchase of newly issued shares. Even in normal times, new share issues would 
often put a temporary squeeze on the money market. On 14 June 1961, two 
new share issues hit the market, the squeeze on the money market intensified, 
and one of the local banks, Liu Chong Hing, started to experience a cashflow 
problem. It had loaned out or invested over 75 percent of the deposits on its 
books, much of it in real estate which could not be readily converted to cash 
to alleviate the banks shortfall in liquidity. When news of its problems hit the 
streets, depositors crowded around the bank to try to withdraw their money and 
the two major note-issuing banks, the Hongkong Bank and Chartered Bank, had 
to step in and declare their support for Liu Chong Hing. 

This quickly put an end to the bank run, but the incident caught the 
governments attention. Hong Kong's regulatory structure needed to catch 
up with its economic growth, so the Bank of England sent H.J. Tomkins to 
Hong Kong to study the situation and make recommendations for reform. In 
December 1964, a new banking ordinance was enacted requiring all banks to 
meet a statutory liquidity ratio. However, the new ordinance did not prevent a 
second banking crisis from occurring the following year, and the fate of Hang 
Seng Bank was irrevocably changed. 

Thanks to the teachings of Chairman Ho, Hang Seng Bank had little 
difficulty acquiring deposits since his emphasis on Chinese culture and service 
enabled it to build up a large and loyal customer base. The bank attracted many 
grass-roots customers, including blue-collar workers, hawkers, school teachers, 
traders, factory owners, stockbrokers, real estate developers and other small 
business owners, all of whom had prospered from Hong Kong's economic boom. 
By 1965, Hang Seng had become the largest local Chinese bank in Hong Kong in 
terms of both deposits and assets. 

However, unlike larger international banks such as the Hongkong Bank and 
Chartered Bank which possessed modern banking know-how, Hang Seng had 
little experience and expertise in diversifying its loan and investment portfolios. 
Like other local banks, it concentrated its loans in the sector that it knew best 
— the property market, which unfortunately was also one of the most illiquid 
areas. This bias among local banks remains largely true to this day. 

After the 1961 bank run and the publication of the Tomkins Report, 
Hang Seng's management tried to diversify its loan portfolio. My department 
was tasked with preparing a series of reports on Hong Kong's manufacturing 
industries and their major export markets (especially the US, the UK and the 
European Economic Community); we spent many hours gathering statistics 
and meeting with loan officers to compile the reports. In addition, Hang Seng 

J 18 The Dragon and the Crown 

joined the annual Exhibition of Hong Kong Products sponsored by the Chinese 
Manufacturers' Association (CMA) in 1964, in order to promote its name among 
manufacturers. It was the first bank to join the exhibition, and we erected a 
pavilion in the style of a Chinese palace, ornately decorated in red and gold, 
where the bank exhibited its collection of rare antique Chinese coins dating 
back over three thousand years. The public response was highly favourable, and 
the bank received great publicity from the event. 

Hang Seng's efforts to diversify its portfolio were timely, and helped to 
reduce the bank's losses when the Hong Kong real estate market suffered a 
set-back in 1964. However, despite its attempts at diversification, Hang Seng's 
portfolio remained over-exposed to the property sector because property lending 
was relatively secure and highly lucrative, and the bank's clients had seemingly 
insatiable demands for real estate loans. The stage was set for another crisis in 
the banking industry. 

January 1965 started in a festive mood. Everyone was shopping, cleaning 
up their homes and preparing food to welcome the Lunar New Year of the Snake. 
The demand for funds in the money market rose towards year-end, but this was 
not unusual since it was customary among Chinese businessmen to settle their 
outstanding debts before the start of a new year. 

Then, in mid-January rumours started to circulate that Ming Tak Bank, 
an unincorporated bank which also came under the governance of the newly 
enacted banking ordinance, was in financial trouble due to its heavy investment 
in the property market. A run started on the bank on 26 January, and the 
commissioner of banking stepped in quickly the next day and suspended Ming 
Tak's business under the provisions of the banking ordinance. However, this did 
not stop rumours from spreading to other banks. 

Tuesday, 2 February was New Year's Day and, as usual, all businesses closed 
down for three days in celebration. When we returned to work on Friday, 
5 February, the newspapers reported that the Supreme Court had granted a 
receiving order and Ming Tak Bank had to declare bankruptcy by 30 April. 
This was a bad omen for the start of the New Year, and a feeling of unease 
spread throughout the bank. The next day, a run started on Canton Trust and 
Commercial Bank, a medium-sized local bank, again on the rumour that it had 
become illiquid because of its heavy involvement in property loans. 

It was not until the following Monday, 8 February, that I started to feel the 
panic. I was still feeling the effects of too much food and wine over the holidays, 
and was sound asleep when friends and relatives started calling and woke me up; 
they wanted to know whether their deposits with Hang Seng were safe. I tried to 
put their minds at ease, with little success: apparently, hundreds of people had 
already lined up outside the bank to withdraw their deposits. I quickly put on 
my suit and rushed back to my office to find out what had happened. 

Hang Seng Bank 119 

To get into the bank building, I had to push my way through the crowd, 
which had by then filled the pavement with depositors clamouring to enter 
the banking hall. The minute I stepped into my office, 1 received instructions 
that all non-business departments had to spare part of their staff to help out in 
the banking hall. By this time, my department had grown to a total of three: a 
secretary, a research assistant and myself. I asked my secretary to remain in the 
office to monitor the telex machine and pass any news relating to the bank runs 
to senior management as soon as possible. I then sent my research assistant to 
the banking hall to help the tellers. 

By then the banking hall resembled a war zone. The tellers were swamped 
by requests from customers crowding over the counters to withdraw their 
money; the supervisors were running back and forth behind the counters 
checking and counter-checking withdrawal slips; and tens of dozens of cashiers 
scurried behind them, carrying stacks of banknotes from the vault to the tellers. 
I joined other bank officers in the hall trying to calm down agitated customers 
and maintain some semblance of order. 

I also had another important mission. Through Q.W. Lee's introduction 
and my own research work, I had come to know Robert Sun of the Government 
Information Service and, through him, many members of the press; I now 
needed to call on this network to reassure the media. To prevent the press from 
picking up false rumours and publishing derogatory reports on the bank, I made 
an arrangement with Sun whereby I would deliver to him periodic press releases 
from Hang Seng, and he would distribute copies of these to the news media. For 
the duration of the crisis, therefore, I doubled up as the bank's de jacto public 
relations officer. 

On that same Monday, bank runs had spread widely among most of the 
local banks, including Kwong On, Dao Heng and Wing Lung. The next day, 
the Hongkong Bank and Chartered Bank had to step in to show their support 
for the local banks. Confident of Hang Sengs financial position, the Hongkong 
Bank pledged its full and unlimited support without examining the bank's 
books. The next day, the government introduced emergency regulations to limit 
cash withdrawals to a maximum of HK$100 per account (although there were 
no restrictions on transfers by check), and made arrangements to air freight 
sterling notes from England to alleviate the currency shortage. Fortunately, the 
notes never had to be used; a week later calm returned and the restriction on 
cash withdrawals was lifted. 

Unfortunately for Hang Seng, this relatively brief bank run was merely a 
precursor of greater calamities to come, and in March rumours regarding the 
bank surfaced again. A number of major clients quietly began to transfer away 
their deposits, but this did not escape notice and news of the withdrawals soon 
leaked out. By the start of April, the rumours were widespread and thousands 

120 The Dragon and the Crown 

of small depositors again descended on the bank. At the peak of the bank run, 
the queue stretched eastward from the banks head office at 77 Des Voeux Road 
Central, wound around Connaught Road on the waterfront, and continued all 
the way to the Star Ferry terminal. "It was like a long snake," one passer-by 

The banking hall of Hang Seng Bank was once again a battle scene of 
boisterous crowds and hassled staff. The bank's security guards struggled to 
hold back the crowds and maintain order; loud speakers blared down the hall 
asking customers to keep calm and assuring them that they would all get their 
money back. I again joined the ranks of those trying to keep the customers 
calm. Despite our efforts, however, the siege of the bank showed little sign of 
being lifted, even after the Hongkong Bank renewed its pledge of unlimited 
support. Within a few days, Hang Seng's vault was almost empty, and huge 
volumes of Hong Kong bank notes were transported from the Hongkong Bank 
in large wooden crates to replenish the supply. 1 had never seen so much cash 
being moved in my life. 

By the beginning of April, over HKS200 million in deposits had been 
withdrawn but the crowds kept coming; a record HK$80 million were withdrawn 
on 5 April alone. All of the bank's employees were visibly exhausted from having 
to handle thousands of customers around the clock, and morale was running 
low. Hang Seng's senior management felt that they could no longer control the 
situation. "Our deposits are being sucked out," said Lee, who was then deputy 
general manager. "If this continues, we will not only be illiquid, we will be 
insolvent. We have to do something." 

The bank's board debated its alternatives for several days. For Chairman 
Ho, who had personally nurtured and shaped the bank, the decision that he had 
to make was probably the most momentous and distressing in his entire life. 
On 8 April, the board finally decided to sell a majority interest in Hang Seng to 
the Hongkong Bank and sent Q.W Lee to negotiate the deal. When news of the 
talks came out, the bank run came to a halt. On 12 April, Hang Seng reached an 
agreement to sell a 51 percent equity interest to the Hongkong Bank for HK$51 

The bank staff heaved a collective sigh of relief at the announcement of 
the acquisition, but there were mixed emotions: Hang Seng had by then forged 
a strong identity both as a top local bank and as a big "family", and selling a 
majority shareholding was like selling one's crown jewels or part of one's home. 
Moreover, the acquisition of a majority stake by the Hongkong Bank treaded on 
the delicate question of national pride. Hang Seng had boasted about its success 
as the largest local Chinese bank, and the fact that it had to be rescued by a 
prominent symbol of British colonialism evoked feelings of shame which many, 
myself included, felt deeply. 

Hang Seng Bank 121 

Chairman Ho must have felt the pain even more keenly. He once told 
us that we should not feel inferior to foreigners as we have a long cultural 
heritage and five thousand years of history. Given the proper leadership and 
environment, he said, we could achieve in banking whatever the foreigners 
could do. Unfortunately, events did not develop in his favour. 

Ultimately, we did not understand why the customers we served so well 
ended up not trusting us. Was it because we were, after all, a local bank, and 
they could have real faith only in international banks? Hang Sengs liquidity 
ratio (i.e. its cash holdings as a proportion of deposits with the bank) stood at 
40 percent at the end of 1964, which was considerably higher than the statutory 
ratio of 25 percent. After the bank run. Hang Seng's liquidity ratio had dropped 
to 30 percent, but that was still above the minimum 25 percent mark. We will 
probably never fully understand the vicissitudes of market sentiment. 

Looking back at what was probably the biggest crisis in his long career, Ho 
Tim said: "My hair turned grey overnight." 

Once the agreement with the Hongkong Bank was announced, Chairman 
Ho called his staff together and we crowded into the auditorium as he stood 
solemnly on the platform in front of the bank's logo (with its name and an 
antique Chinese coin inside a golden cogwheel). Those who had to remain at 
their desks listened through the internal broadcasting system. Ho was barely 
able to hide his emotions, and tears gleamed in his eyes, but he remained true 
to his stature, asserted his leadership and lifted our spirits. 

"Have absolute faith in me and support me!" he said, his voice rising. "1 
have every confidence in being able to lead you as we forge ahead once again!" 

The other directors tried to assure the bank staff that Hang Seng would 
retain its autonomy and there would be no significant changes, even though 
four executives from the Hongkong Bank would be joining Hang Seng's 
board. "The bank's personnel, administration and management systems will 
remain unchanged," promised Leung Chik Wai, the vice-chairman. "When 
all is settled, Hang Seng will move ahead steadily and we will recover all our 

Q.W Lee was just as adamant that business should continue as usual despite 
the change in ownership. "All staff should maintain the friendly, courteous and 
caring business environment which Hang Seng has built up over the years," he 
said. "If Hang Seng continues to prosper, so will its staff." 

The bank did indeed regain its customers and it continued to expand 
after the takeover, maintaining its position as the top "local" bank. Despite the 
humiliation and heartbreak we suffered as a result of the acquisition, Hang Seng 
enjoyed certain advantages as a subsidiary of the Hongkong Bank; the bank's 
credit rating rose significantly overnight and there was seemingly no limit to its 
potential growth. 

122 The Dragon and the Crown 

Whether by prior agreement or simply good management, for as long 
as Hang Seng's original senior management team remained at the helm, the 
Hongkong Bank limited its presence to the board and gave the team a free hand 
to run the business. This was a wise decision, since the cultures and clienteles of 
the two banks were extremely different. The Hongkong Banks management had 
always been very British, and its customers were mainly larger corporations; 
Hang Seng, on the other hand, was managed like a large Chinese family, and 
appealed to smaller Chinese businesses. In many ways, this was a division of 
labour harking back to the banks yinhao days. 

This "one bank, two systems" approach proved highly successful and 
passed the test of time. In 2000, when the other subsidiaries of the Hongkong 
Bank Group changed their names to HSBC and adopted a common logo, Hang 
Seng retained its own name and unique logo. 

Years of Turmoil 

For Hong Kong as a whole, the 1960s was a decade of economic volatility and 
political turmoil. The decade started ominously with the run on Liu Chong 
Hing Bank in 1961, followed by the collapse of the property market in 1964 
and the large-scale bank runs of 1965. To top it all, the violence of the Cultural 
Revolution on the Mainland spread to Hong Kong in 1967, and the economy 
went into a tailspin. 

At the turn of the 1960s, unending political campaigns and persecutions 
on the Mainland had stoked anti-communist feelings among many in Hong 
Kong and planted doubts in those of us who had supported New China. Mao 
Zedongs Great Leap Forward campaign during 1958-60, a massive experiment 
to collectivize and industrialize the country, led to a steep fall in agricultural 
production; an estimated tens of million of people died of starvation. To escape 
this countrywide disaster, waves of refugees started to cross over the border 
to Hong Kong; by the end of 1962, the colony's population had soared to over 
three million, from slightly over two million in 1950. 

The inflow of refugees reached a climax in May 1962, during the so-called 
"May refugee tide". After this, the Hong Kong government decided to stop the 
flow by fencing off the colony's border with the Mainland and posting armed 
soldiers along the fence, leaving only four checkpoints (Lok Ma Chau, Lo Wu, 
Man Kam To and Sha Tau Kok) for those with valid travel documents to pass 
through. Many tried to bypass the fences by swimming across the sea to the 
New Territories, swimming up to five to six hours in the dark and cold and 
often braving high winds and even sharks. This escape route continued to be 
used throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, especially by those who later tried 
to flee the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. 

Hang Seng Bank 123 

As waves of refugees poured into Hong Kong, I sometimes wondered 
whether my brothers Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong, and my other relatives who 
had gone to the Mainland, would return. However, they all decided to stay and 
ride out the hardships. My cousin Hung Kwong was the only one who came 
back to Hong Kong, but he left again for the Mainland after a short stay. Hung 
Kwong went to the Mainland to study education at Hunan Normal University in 
Changsha, Hunan Province, and was later assigned to teach middle school in a 
remote corner of the province bordering Guangxi. He fell ill from overwork and 
malnutrition during the Great Leap Forward, and although he went to Changsha 
for medical treatment he did not fully recover. Knowing that he was from Hong 
Kong, the authorities granted him special permission to return to the colony 
for treatment, and gave him a two-way travel permit so that he could return to 
Hunan after his recovery Seeing how pale and emaciated he had become, his 
friends and relatives in Hong Kong entreated him not to return to the Mainland, 
but Hung Kwong refused to listen and went back to his teaching post in Hunan 
after regaining his health. He returned to Hong Kong with his family for good 
only in the early 1970s, after becoming disillusioned with the Mainland when he 
was accused of being a spy from Hong Kong during the Cultural Revolution. 

The only one 1 knew who did return to Hong Kong with the refugee wave 
and stayed was Sam Chi Yan, my former classmate at Kings College. One of 
the founding members of the patriotic Xingwu Society, Sam was among the 
first Kings College students who discarded their English-style school uniform 
and put on Sun Yat-sen suits to demonstrate their patriotic sentiments. During 
the Battle of Hong Kong, Sam joined the St. John's Ambulance Brigade and 
later went back to the Mainland to attend Jiangxi Medical College. After the 
Communist takeover, he served in the Jiangxi Provincial Hospital and was highly 
regarded by both the hospital and provincial authorities. However, his work was 
constantly disrupted by endless "criticism and self-criticism" meetings as one 
political campaign followed another, and in 1962 Sam decided to follow the 
refugees and returned to Hong Kong to start life anew. 

Living conditions in Hong Kong during the 1960s were quite difficult for 
most people. With the surge in population, both housing and water were in 
short supply Despite government efforts to build more reservoirs, a dry spell 
during 1963 led to a critical water shortage; during the worst months, water 
was supplied for only four hours every four days, when everyone in the family 
would try to take a shower and wash our clothes. We would then fill up as many 
large buckets and barrels as we could fit into the kitchen and bathrooms in 
order to have enough water supply for the next three days. During those limited 
hours of supply, water pressure in the pipelines of old tenement houses often 
became so weak that dwellers on the upper floors would hardly get any water 
and the cry of "People downstairs, turn off your taps!" was often heard. Those 

124 The Dragon and the Crown 

who did not have piped water supply in their homes would queue for long 
hours on the streets and jostle to fill their containers from standpipes, often 
leading to squabbles and even fistfights among neighbours. Worried about social 
unrest, the government finally decided that they had to import water to relieve 
the shortage, and reached an agreement with the Guangdong government to 
purchase water from the East River (Dong Jiang). By this time, the importance 
of water had become so ingrained in the psyche of the Hong Kong populace 
that the word "water" became a substitute for money or wealth, still used today. 
Thus, wealthy people would have a lot of "water", and to make money was to 
"find water". 

The 1960s also saw a series of demonstrations motivated by concerns about 
rising living costs and overall dissatisfaction with work conditions. The first 
major outbreak was triggered by an increase in the fare for the Star Fern- in 
April 1966. Inspired by a young man named So Sau Chung, who went on a 
hunger strike to protest the fare hike, a group of youths demonstrated outside 
the Star Ferry terminal and then along the main streets in Central. Later, more 
people joined the protests on both sides of the harbour, with demonstrations 
continuing in Kowloon for four days. The police eventually used force to 
disperse the crowds, killing one and arresting many. 

Then in the spring of 1967, a series of strikes broke out across a wide range 
of industries, involving taxi drivers and workers in cement plants, textile mills 
and artificial-flower factories. Many of the strikes appeared to be supported or 
organized by pro-PRC labour unions. In May, a dispute over wages and working 
hours led to strikes and fistfights at an artificial-flower factory in San Po Kong: 
again, the police used force to dispel the protesters, which resulted in many 
casualties. In sympathy with the victims, strikes and demonstrations broke out 
all over Hong Kong. 

Nothing prepared us for the violence that subsequently erupted. Inspired 
by the Cultural Revolution on the Mainland, pro-PRC schools and corporations 
saw the strikes as legitimate struggles against capitalism and the colonial 
government, and quickly threw in their support. The ranks of the demonstrators 
swelled, and clashes broke out everywhere. 

During the long hot summer months of 1967, I could often see column 
after column of demonstrators from the window of my office in Hang Seng 
Bank, almost all wearing white shirts and blue or black trousers and holding 
the Little Red Book of Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong high in their hands. 
They often chanted revolutionary songs and shouted anti-British slogans as they 
marched eastward along Des Voeux Road Central and then uphill along Garden 
Road to protest in front of the Central Government Offices and Government 
House. Armed with pistols and billy clubs, and protected by steel helmets, 
rattan shields and gas masks, the police tried to block the demonstrators' 

Hang Seng Bank 125 

processions at major road junctions and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. 
The demonstrators, in return, would pick up rocks and broken bricks on the 
curb-side and hurl them against the police line-up. 

Fanning the flames, the local pro-PRC media vied with each other to urge the 
demonstrators on. Many of their headlines echoed the political violence on the 
Mainland, such as: "Organize a courageous struggle against the British; respond 
to the call of the motherland to smash the reactionary rule of the British." Their 
propaganda became more inflammatory as demonstrations progressed: ethnic 
Chinese policemen were called "yellow skin dogs" and Caucasian policemen 
"white skin pigs". As the violence escalated, arrests became rampant. Then, 
unable to overcome the much stronger forces of the police, demonstrators 
resorted to the guerrilla tactics of Communist Chinese fame. They started 
staging "cat-and-mouse" games with the police, planting home-made bombs 
in congested streets and narrow alleys with the label: "compatriots stay away". 
Some of these bombs looked like the pineapple-shaped hand grenades that the 
British Army used during the war, and were nicknamed boh loh (pineapples) by 
the locals. Even though many of these bombs turned out to be fakes, quite a few 
exploded, killing or injuring policemen as well as innocent bystanders. Then, 
in August, a well-known radio broadcaster, Lam Bun, was burned to death in 
his car, presumably for criticizing the demonstrators on his show. This tragedy, 
together with the mounting number of injuries and deaths, started to turn 
public sentiment against the pro-PRC camp. 

Another event in 1967 that also helped to change public opinion was the 
outbreak of fighting at Sha Tau Kok on the eastern end of the border with the 
Mainland. Across the border from the Hong Kong police post at Sha Tau Kok 
was a sentry post guarded by soldiers of the Peoples Liberation Army and 
the local militia. In early July, after hurling antagonistic slogans at the Hong 
Kong side, the Chinese guards crossed the border and fired at the Hong Kong 
police post, injuring and killing quite a few policemen before retreating. When 
Hong Kong's director of medical services tried to dispatch medical officers to 
Sha Tau Kok to tend to the wounded, few were willing to go because of the 
danger involved. Time was running short and Sam Chi Yan, my King's College 
classmate, volunteered to go even though he was then an unlicensed medical 
officer (since his mainland qualifications had not been recognized by the Hong 
Kong government). Sam's mission was a success, earning him the respect and 
gratitude of the colonial government. When the demonstrations were over, the 
director of medical services recommended Sam for the award of MBE (Member 
of the British Empire), but he declined, requesting instead to be sent to the 
UK to further his medical studies so that he could obtain his doctor's licence. 
His request was granted, and he eventually became a director within the 

126 The Dragon and the Crown 

Whenever people talked about the events of 1967, they would use two 
markedly different terms, depending upon their political stance. The colonial 
government and many others in Hong Kong called the incidents "the 67 
Riots'; the pro-PRC camp would refer to "the movement to oppose the British 
and resist violence". In reality, violence was used by both sides. To control 
the "riots", the Legislative Council passed a series of emergency laws, which 
allowed the police to make arrests with little regard for freedom of speech or 
human rights. Around five thousand students, teachers, factory workers and 
office clerks of pro-PRC or PRC-owned institutions were arrested and locked up 
in Victoria Prison in the Central District. Those with a higher social status and 
better known to the public — such as school principals, labour union leaders, 
businessmen, newspaper publishers, film producers and'directors, and actors 
and actresses — were placed under the close surveillance of the Special Branch 
of the Hong Kong police. Some fifty of them were eventually rounded up and 
confined to a special internment camp, an isolated white building facing the sea 
at the foot of Mount Davis. Many of the prisoners and internees were confined 
without a fair trial, and quite a few reported being physically abused in prison. 
Among those detained were two people 1 knew: my cousin Lun Kwong, the 
youngest son of Uncle Wai Chow and a music teacher at the pro-PRC Hon Wah 
Middle School; and Wong Kin Lap, the principal of Hon Wah and my former 
schoolmate at Kings College. Even though I was upset by the growing violence, 
the imprisonment of people without trial made me feel that Hong Kong was 
increasingly "ruled by law", even though the British prided themselves on "the 
rule of law". 

As public sentiment turned and Beijing reportedly intervened towards the 
end of 1967, the "riots" or "anti-British movement" finally came to an end, but 
Hong Kong paid a hefty price. Innocent people had suffered injuries, some had 
died, and the economy had almost ground to a halt. Many who qualified for 
immigration sold their assets, closed down their offices and factories, and left 
for foreign countries; property and share prices plummeted and unemployment 
shot up. The PRC side was also adversely affected. During the turbulence, 
nobody dared to shop for mainland products at Chinese emporiums or use pro- 
PRC banks, so business at all pro-PRC banks and companies nose-dived. After 
1967, the term "Leftist", which was used to describe people from the pro-PRC 
camp, took on a more derogatory meaning as "Leftists" became increasingly 
isolated from mainstream Hong Kong society and suffered discrimination. 

At Hang Seng Bank, more and more middle- and high-ranking officers took 
leave to explore career opportunities in the United States, Canada, Australia and 
Singapore, often with emigration in mind. I, too, was tempted, so I consulted 
Wong Hing Kwong, Man Kwongs father-in-law, who had already sent his older 
children overseas after the war. He was then making plans for his eleventh son. 

Hang Seng Bank 127 

Man Fai, to join his third son, Man Hung, in Vancouver, Canada. Mr. Wong 
always held a pessimistic view of Hong Kong, and he urged me to emigrate 
to Canada where, he said, I would find peace of mind as well as employment 
opportunities since several banks from Hong Kong had already opened up 
branches there. At his suggestion, 1 visited his son Man Hung in Vancouver for 
three weeks in the summer of 1969, and stayed for another week in Winnipeg, 
Canada where one of my good friends, Dr. Poon Yee Kit, had emigrated the year 

In the end, however, I did not carry out my plan to emigrate. By 1969, 
calm had returned to the streets of Hong Kong, and many of the businessmen 
who had previously fled returned, bringing their capital back with them. Of the 
ones who had stayed behind in Hong Kong, those who had sufficient daring 
had made handsome profits from the exodus by buying up properties, plants 
and shares at bargain prices. This reshuffling of wealth re-shaped the colony's 
economic landscape, and Hong Kong was ready to move on. I did not take the 
decision to emigrate until fifteen years later. 

Launching the Hang Seng Index 

As the Hong Kong economy struggled to recover from the turmoil of 1967, 
few could foresee that the damage caused to the mainland economy by the 
Cultural Revolution would actually enhance Hong Kong's position as China's 
window on the world market. The colony would profit from this role and enjoy 
unprecedented prosperity over the next three decades. 

The Hong Kong economy rebounded quickly after reaching its nadir in 
1967-68. Demand for property, goods and services rose as both capital and 
emigrants returned to the colony. The stock market picked up as the economy 
recovered, and businesses started to tap the public markets to raise equity 
capital. Hong Kong's stock market had been relatively small up until then; only 
fifty companies were listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1954, and few 
individuals played the stock market. However, Hang Seng had been active in 
the market since the 1950s, and income from securities trading and investments 
formed an important part of its earnings. The bank's subsidiary, Hang Seng 
Finance Ltd., underwrote many new issues, and another subsidiary, Hang Seng 
(Nominee) Ltd., helped small investors buy and sell shares. 

As the stock market rose and the bank's securities trading activities and 
investments grew, Chairman Ho and Q.W Lee (who had by then succeeded Ho 
Tim as General Manager) decided in late 1969 that they needed a measure of 
the performance of the stock market for their own as well as their customers' 
reference. Ever the visionary, Ho wanted to create an index which would be the 
"Dow Jones Industrial Average of Hong Kong". Some of the senior managers 

128 The Dragon and the Crown 

were sceptical and questioned whether this was not a task for larger, international 
banks, but Lee convinced them that we should do it. "Chairman Ho believes 
we should constantly provide new products and services to our customers and 
the community," he said. "This will bring in more business and profits for the 
bank. If we create the index, Hang Seng's name will be mentioned over and over 
again in newspapers, financial journals, and radio and television broadcasts. 
Can there be any better publicity for the bank?" 

I agreed totally with Lee, and threw myself wholeheartedly into the project 
when he gave me the task of creating a "Hang Seng Index". It proved to be more 
of a challenge than I had expected. By then I had a staff of seven, including three 
university graduates, but since none of us had any experience compiling a stock 
market index, we had to consult statisticians and economists in the government 
and the universities on all the technicalities, including the computation formula. 
We finally decided to use a Laspeyre's type price index. Its application was 
remarkable in its simplicity: the aggregate market value of a designated basket 
of stocks (the "constituent stocks") on a given day would be compared to the 
aggregate market value of these stocks on a fixed "base day" in the past, in order 
to show overall changes in the market during that time period. The aggregate 
market value of the "constituent stocks" on any given day could be calculated 
by first multiplying the market price of each stock at the close of the day by the 
number of shares issued, and then aggregating these amounts. 

For the index to reflect market fluctuations accurately, however, we needed 
an appropriate date for the "base day" — one that would be representative of 
a normal trading day in the history of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. We 
would then use the market prices of our "constituent stocks" on that "base 
day" to calculate their aggregate market value, on which we set the base index 
number of 100. Any subsequent changes in the prices of the "constituent 
stocks" over time would be reflected proportionately in the movement of the 
index number. We poured through the records of the stock exchange dating 
back to its establishment in 1947, and eventually decided to use 31 July 1964 
as our "base day". The market was generally stable during 1964, turnover was 
spread evenly over the months, and in July few companies published accounts, 
declared dividends or altered their capital, all of which could have affected stock 

The next question we faced was which stocks to select for our basket of 
"constituent stocks", but the answer was less straight forward. At that time there 
were less than one hundred listed companies on the Hong Kong stock exchange 
so, in theory, the prices of all quoted shares could be averaged out at the end 
of each trading session to calculate the index. However, we decided that not all 
share prices should be treated as if they were of equal interest and importance. 
By including stocks that were insignificant or inactive, we would actually distort 

Hang Seng Bank 129 

the index, which should be a measure of overall price movements. In the end 
we decided to select as constituent stocks for the index only those stocks which 
met the following criteria: (1) the principal operational base of the company 
that issued the stock must be located in Hong Kong; (2) the stock must satisfy 
a minimum average market value for the past twelve months; and (3) the stock 
must satisfy a minimum aggregate monthly turnover for the past twenty-four 
months. In addition, we also evaluated each company in terms of: its current and 
past financial condition; the earnings record and growth prospects; the quality 
of the company's management; and the business prospects of the industry sector 
to which it belonged. 

We tried to apply our criteria objectively in selecting the constituent stocks, 
but this turned out to be more complicated than we had expected. Since any 
stock chosen for the Hang Seng Index would immediately be considered "blue 
chip" — a sign of the company's financial strength and stability — once the 
top executives of some of the larger companies in Hong Kong heard about our 
preparations for the index, they started to lobby Chairman Ho for their stocks 
to be included. This put Ho in a bind since he did not want to upset any of his 
business relationships. The selection debate went on for some time, and some 
newspapers sarcastically called the Hang Seng Index the "Old Pal Index". 

Despite these glitches, we managed to stick to our selection criteria and 
choose thirty-three companies as our "constituent stocks". In addition, in 
order to accommodate changes in company fortunes and the emergence of new 
companies, we allowed for alterations to the list of constituent stocks if the 
performance or eligibility of any of the companies in the index should change, 
or if new companies met the selection criteria. In the end, the system worked 
well. By the time I retired in 1984, the number of companies listed on the Hong 
Kong Stock Exchange had increased to over 250, but the number of constituent 
stocks remained 33, and these companies still accounted for about 75 percent of 
total market value (based on the average for the last twelve months) and over 70 
percent of total market turnover (based on the aggregate for the last twenty-four 

The Hang Seng Index made its debut on 24 November 1969, and immediately, 
we faced the challenge of computing the index in a timely manner. This was in 
the days before the electronic age, when calculators had to be cranked by hand 
and stock prices and transaction volumes were written on a big blackboard 
on the centre wall of the stock exchange's trading hall. Our index-computing 
team, which consisted of two "share price copiers", two calculator operators 
and the team leader, would go to the stock exchange twice a day, at the closing 
of the morning session and the afternoon session. When the closing bell rang, 
the copiers would quickly jot down the closing prices of the constituent stocks 
on specially designed forms, and the calculator operators would then compute 

130 The Dragon and the Crown 

the index based on the data in the forms. To make sure that there would be no 
mistakes, the two copiers would exchange data, and the calculator operators 
would run their machines for a second time. When everything was done, the 
team leader would immediately inform the stock exchange manager of the 
results and telephone the information back to us at the Research Department. 

This was undoubtedly a very primitive computation method compared 
with today's technology. As was to be expected, calculations could still go wrong 
despite our precautions, and when this happened the news would be splashed 
across the papers and I would be summoned to Q.W. Lee's office to give him an 
explanation. If he was still dissatisfied, he would raise the issue at the weekly 
executive meeting and I would be criticized for "damaging the bank's image". A 
typical resolution from such a meeting would read like this: "Mr. Kwan to meet 
with editors of the press with a view to offering them an explanation as well as 
an apology." 

It was not until July 1981, when the index was reported online through 
computerization, that mistakes were minimized to near zero. By then the index 
could also be updated by the minute instead of only twice a day. The Hang 
Seng Index turned out to be so useful and widely accepted that Hang Seng 
Bank set up a wholly-owned subsidiary, HSI Services Limited, to take over index 
computation from the Research Department in December 1985. Since then, the 
company has published a series of new indices, including the Hang Seng China- 
Affiliated Corporations Index, the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, the 
Hang Seng Asia Index, the Hang Seng London Reference Index, and the Hang 
Seng 100 Index. 

The Hang Seng Index started me on the path of public service. Seeing the 
success of the index, in July 1974 the government invited the bank to compile 
a new consumer price index (CPI) to complement its two existing CPIs, CPI 
(A) and CPI (B), which focused on lower- and medium-expenditure households 
respectively. The new CPI would focus on households in the higher expenditure 
range. Remembering the favourable publicity that the Hang Seng Index generated 
for the bank, Lee gladly accepted the invitation and again assigned the project to 
me. I worked closely with the government's Census and Statistics Department, 
and we again decided to use a Laspeyre's type price index, measuring changes 
in the average price level of a fixed basket of goods and services. We launched 
the Hang Seng Consumer Price Index (HSCPI) in October 1974. When Hang 
Seng handed over the work of data collection and index compilation to the 
government in July 1999, the HSCPI was re-named CPI (C). 

My work with the government on the HSCPI led to other opportunities 
for public service. On 21 May 1976, I received a letter from the secretary 
for economic services informing me that Governor Murray MacLehose had 
appointed me as a member of the Statistics Advisory Board (SAB) for a term of 

Hang Seng Bank 131 

two years. My role was "to advise the Commissioner for Census and Statistics 
on all statistical matters referred to the Board by the Commissioner." My term 
began on 1 June 1976, and I was re-appointed for three more two-year terms 
until I retired in 1984. During the period of my service, the SAB reviewed new 
statistics legislation and launched a number of important projects, including: 
the survey of imports and exports of services, quarterly business surveys, 
the general household survey, the industrial production index, and the 1981 
population census. 

So for eight years 1 worked for both the bank and the government, and 
although this could be quite a challenge at times, 1 was glad of the opportunity 
to work on various economic issues facing Hong Kong in my position on the 
SAB and to provide public service to the community. 

23. A smiling mother at the inauguration of 
the new Hang Seng Bank Building at 77 Des 
Voeux Road in 1962. 

24. With Mother and my family at the Great Wall. 19/3. My first visit to the Mainland 
almost twenty years was arranged as part of a United Front effort. 

25. Launching the Hang Seng Consumer Price Index with Commissioner for Census and 
Statistics D.S. Whitelegge, 1974. 

2d. Inspecting a Red Flag limousine at No. 1 Motor ( at Factor) in Changchun, |ilm. during 
a tour of the Northeast arranged bv Bank of China in 1977. 

27. With Fourteenth Uncle Tang Shiu Kin and cousins Wai Han and Pak Hei at a Radio 
Television Hong Kong (RTHK) event, 1981. 

28. With Chairman Ho at Hang 
Seng's Golden Jubilee in 1983. 

29. Man Kwok Lau presenting me with my Hang Seng retirement souvenir, 1984. Man also 
emigrated to Canada. 

30. 1 migrating to Canada. Kai Tak Airport. 1984. Aunt Rose gives Yvonne a goodbye 


31. Receiving my MBE from Governor Edward Youde, Government House, 1985. 

32. Family gathering in Toronto with daughters Yvonne and Elaine (middle row second and 
third from right), and Man Kwong's children Nicole (middle row second from left) and Cheuk 
(front row left), and their families, 1993. 

33. 1 [o Tim I left) and Q.W 1 ee I right I at the inauguration of the Ho Leung Ho 1 ee Foundation 
in Beijing. 1994. They are flanked by the daughters of Chairman Ho and 1 eung Kau Kui. 

34. Q.W. Lee (right) with Premier Li Peng. Lhe premier officiated at the prize-presentation 
ceremony of the Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation in Beijing in 1995. 

35. My Alma Mater: King's College, 2006. 

36. Hon Wah Middle School at the former site of our family mansion on Ching Lin Terrace. 

37. Playmates reunited: Yuan Kwong and 
Wong Man Fai in front of Lu Ban Temple at 
Chini! Lin Terrace, 2006. 

38. Celebrating our 50th wedding anniversai) 

m Toronto. 2006. 

New China 

Ping Pong Diplomacy 

Although my work at Hang Seng Bank did not involve China until much later, I 
tried to keep up with developments in New China through the news. However, 
throughout the 1950s and 1960s most of my friends and relatives would avoid 
talking about politics when we met. We had little to discuss about Hong Kong 
since the colonial government set all the policies and there were no elections and 
few dissenting voices. If we talked about mainland China, any discussion would 
inevitably lead to heated debates, with some staunchly supporting the PRC, 
right or wrong; and the others, fiercely anti-communist, loudly condemning 
the mainland government. I harboured mixed feelings since 1 found it hard to 
accept the endless political campaigns on the Mainland, but on the other hand 1 
took a certain pride in Chinas industrialization and independence. 

1 was especially careful not to talk about China during the monthly lunch 
or dinner gatherings among my King's College classmates (class of 1942) since I 
knew that we all held different political views. 1 attended these gatherings mainly 
to stay in touch with my old friends, and we usually talked about harmless, 
typical stag-party topics such as food, wine, horse racing and women. Every 
now and then, however, someone would comment on the political situation on 
the Mainland and arguments would flare up. During these often heated debates, 
our classmate Tarn Ting Kwong would speak calmly and eloquently and kept 
on smiling in order to cool down the discussion. Since 1 knew that he was a 
staunch supporter of the mainland government, I always marvelled at his ability 
to remain calm and controlled in these situations. 

Sturdy and bespectacled, Tarn excelled at school both academically and 
in sports; he led our class soccer team to many victories and was awarded 
a government scholarship in 1940. Our principal and teachers had high 
expectations of him. and his classmates loved him. After the Japanese invaded 
China in 1937, Tarns interests took a different turn and he became one of the 

134 The Dragon and the Crown 

founding members of the Xingwu Society, which was dedicated to promoting 
national and social awareness among Hong Kong students. He also joined the 
K.C. Boys Chorus, which was formed after the Wuhan Ensemble performed 
in our school in 1938. Inspired by the ensembles performance and with the 
permission of our open-minded headmaster, Mr. Kay, the chorus sang patriotic 
anti-Japanese songs and often gave performances in school. 

Tarn and I lost contact with each other during the war. When we met again 
in 1949, he was working for China Mutual Trading Company, which handled 
imports and exports in Hong Kong on behalf of the PRC Ministry of Foreign 
Economic Relations and Trade. During the Korean War, China Mutual Trading 
bought many Dodge trucks from Dodwell Motors (when 1 was working there) 
and smuggled them to the Mainland in violation of the UN embargo. Tarns 
ties to China ran even deeper than his work since his elder brother, Tarn Kon, 
was one of the earliest officials of the Xinhua News Agency (the unofficial 
representative of the PRC government in Hong Kong) and eventually became 
the head of foreign affairs within the agency. 

Tarn Ting Kwong later changed his name to Tan Zhi Yuan and became a 
director of Tiantsu Weijing in Hong Kong. Tiantsu Weijing, which started as 
a Tianjin-based private company producing monosodium glutamate (weijing) 
under its own name, was converted into a state-owned enterprise after the 
communist takeover. During the 1950s the company expanded its Hong Kong 
operations to include the production of bleaches and dyes (for the colony's 
booming textile industry), and later diversified into trading and real estate 
development. Tarn and I stayed in touch with each other throughout his highly 
successful careers in both China Mutual Trading and Tiantsu Weijing. 

At the turn of the 1970s, Chinas rigid ideological stance began to thaw 
although the Cultural Revolution had not yet ended. In April 1971, the PRC 
government launched its "Ping Pong Diplomacy" and invited the American 
ping pong team to visit the Mainland. This led to President Nixon's milestone 
visit to China in 1972 and a detente in the US-China relationship which paved 
the way for the PRC to replace Taiwan (a.k.a. Republic of China) as one of the 
five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. 

I felt encouraged by this turn of events and began to think about visiting 
China again myself. During the past two decades I had been worried about 
the political situation on the Mainland and had avoided visiting my younger 
brothers, Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong. I had picked up some news about them 
from Mother and Aunt Rose, who visited them by train from time to time 
with suitcases full of powdered milk, clothes and other daily necessities, but 
I had long wanted to see them myself to find out how they were. 1 was also 
curious about how China had developed since I was last there during the war, 
so when more and more overseas Chinese and Americans started to visit China 

New China 135 

in the early 1970s, I was tempted to make the journey and see the country for 

Sensing my change of heart, Tarn Ting Kwong urged me to go and promised 
to make all the necessary arrangements; he had probably been waiting patiently 
for this moment all along. Tarn introduced me to Huang Daoming, who would 
arrange the journey for me and my family (including our itinerary, transportation 
and hotel reservations) and who would also serve as our guide. The speed and 
efficiency with which Tarn and Huang coordinated the visit left me with little 
doubt that 1 had become a target of the CCPs United Front. 

I met Huang with Tarn at a restaurant in To Kwa Wan, Kowloon near the 
Tiantsu Weijing factory and office complex, from where we could see aircraft 
taking off and landing on the Kai Tak Airport runway. A big sturdy man in his 
forties, Huang was dressed like a seasoned Hong Kong businessman, with a 
tailored Western suit and a brightly-coloured tie, but both his northern accent 
and his manner of chain smoking cigarettes suggested that he was from the 
Mainland. His knowledge of both Hong Kong and the Mainland made a deep 
impression on me during the hour we spent over lunch. Huang had learned 
Cantonese from his wife, who studied Chinese medicine in Guangzhou during 
the 1940s, and now owned a Chinese herbal medicine shop in the Yau Ma Ti 

After the meeting, 1 alternated between excitement and anxiety over the 
trip. 1 would be seeing my brothers and my country for the first time in over two 
decades, but how have they changed? What would I find? 

A Pilgrimage 

I embarked on what felt like a pilgrimage to New China in August 1973, together 
with Wing Kin, Mother, my daughters Yvonne and Elaine, and of course our 
guide Huang Daoming. Huang, who had been attentive to us and answered 
all our questions regarding the trip, had by this time become almost a family 
friend; he had started to call me "Lao Kwan" (old pal Kwan) and I called him 
Lao Huang. 

Upon Lao Huang's advice, we decided to enter the Mainland via Macao 
instead of taking the usual route by train through Lo Wu. Starting out early 
in the morning, we took a ferry to Macao and then a taxi to Portas do Cerco 
(Border Gate) across from the PRC checkpoint at Gongbei in Zhongshan County 
Guangdong. The advantage of going through Macao was that the Hong Kong 
immigration authorities would have no record of our visit to the Mainland since 
both the Macao and the PRC authorities had agreed that neither would stamp 
our travel documents; the only travel record the Hong Kong authorities would 
see would be our visit to Macao. 

136 The Dragon and the Crown 

Lao Huang was right to take this precaution. Although Britain was 
one of the first nations to recognize the People's Republic of China, Sino- 
British relations were far from cordial during the first three decades of the 
People's Republic and the Hong Kong government did not encourage its 
residents to visit the Mainland. Government officials, especially, could not 
travel to the Mainland without special approval, and very few did. Since 
Hang Seng was now part of the Hongkong Bank Group, which was close 
to the colonial government, the bank's senior management toed the official 
line and discouraged their staff from visiting the Mainland. The bank had an 
unwritten rule that those taking holidays outside Hong Kong should inform 
the Personnel Department of their destinations beforehand, and any visit to 
the Mainland without management approval would be recorded and could 
jeopardize the employee's career prospects within the bank. In view of my 
position within Hang Seng Bank, my relationship with the government's 
Census and Statistics Department, and the fact that I had two brothers serving 
the mainland government, it was perfectly understandable that Lao Huang 
decided to escort us through Macao. 

After leaving Portas do Cerco on the Macao side, we walked across the 
border to the PRC checkpoint at Gongbei with dozens of other people. Many of 
the travellers were older men or women carrying large canvas or vinyl bags filled 
with great quantities of food, clothing and daily necessities for their relatives on 
the Mainland. There were also a few businessmen, some traders transporting 
small goods across the border, and a handful of tourists who, like us, were 
curious to see New China. 

On the Chinese side of the border crossing was a one-storey yellow brick 
building, where a large red PRC flag with its five yellow stars flew from a flagstaff 
on the roof. As I walked towards the flag my heart started to pound, just as 
it had done thirty years earlier when 1 first entered Free China and saw the 
Nationalist Chinese flag. Three People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers in olive 
green uniforms were posted at the border gate. During the Cultural Revolution, 
Chinese military personnel did not wear any insignia to mark their rank; the 
only way to distinguish an officer from the ranks was to count the number of 
pockets on their uniforms — officers would have four pockets and enlisted 
men two. The three soldiers were enlisted men, with the older man (in his 
forties with a battle-hardened face and a pistol holstered on his belt) probahK 
a sergeant, and the other two (who were hardly twenty) privates. The latter 
stood erect outside their sentry boxes carrying AK-47 automatic rifles, the most 
widely used assault weapon of the PLA infantry while the sergeant paced the 
open ground between the sentry post and the brick building. The presence ot 
stern, fully armed soldiers on the border reminded us unmistakably that we 
were in the Peoples Republic. 

New China 137 

The immigration and customs offices were inside the yellow building. 
Seated upright behind small wooden desks, several immigration officers were 
examining the travel documents in their hands carefully, flipping through the 
pages and occasionally looking up to question the travellers. They seemed 
oblivious of the long lines in front of their desks. A suspenseful silence filled the 
room; anyone remotely suspected of being a counter-revolutionary or a foreign 
spy would be detained for interrogation or sent back to Macao. 

After clearing immigration procedures, travellers faced the customs officers 
who searched through everyone's belongings meticulously, imposed heavy taxes 
on foreign goods, and confiscated anything they deemed undesirable, including 
all reading materials that were considered indecent or politically unacceptable. 
Seasoned travellers would usually discard such matter before crossing the 
border, and consequently the litter bins on the Macao side of the border were 
filled with Hong Kong and Macao newspapers and magazines that could not be 
taken into China. 

Thankfully, we were spared the ordeal of going through either immigration 
or customs. As soon as we entered the building, Lao Huang led us across the 
hall to a small office where he gave an older official a letter and our travel 
documents. After reading the letter and glancing at our documents, the official 
nodded and waved us through. 

Once outside, Lao Huang quickly ushered us into a waiting minivan and 
loaded our bags. As we sped away, I could see a long queue of people at 
the Zhongshan-Guangzhou bus terminal, waiting patiently with their heavy 
sacks and suitcases in the uncomfortably warm mid-morning sun. Quite a 
few of them looked at us curiously as we sped away, and 1 too was surprised 
that we had private transportation since there were very few cars on the 
roads. When I asked Lao Huang about it, he shrugged off my question with a 
smile; "We are concerned about the convenience and comfort of our guests," 
he said. 

The road to Guangzhou passed through the counties of Zhongshan, 
Shunde and Panyu in the Pearl River Delta, and was crisscrossed by many 
waterways. There were very few bridges, and both travellers and vehicles had 
to be transported on flat-bottomed wooden barges across some of the major 
waterways. When our van reached a ferry pier we would alight, stand on the 
roadside with other passengers, and wait for the barge to dock. As the day 
progressed and the sun became stronger, the waits became longer and more 
uncomfortable, and many of the passengers from the buses in front would take 
cover and squat in the shade of nearby trees. Mother usually sat patiently inside 
our van, but my daughters would fidget and complain about the heat. As we all 
stood around waiting, Lao Huang tried his best to entertain us with the latest 
news and stories about China. 

138 The Dragon and the Crown 

Often there was only one barge servicing the river crossing and, as each 
barge could carry only four or five vehicles at a time, we would have to wait 
for it to return, dock, unload and take on board the waiting vehicles followed 
by their passengers on foot. Once we crossed the waterway, the vehicles would 
again get off the barge first, stop by the roadside and wait for the passengers as 
we walked up to our van to continue the journey. 

I had plenty of opportunity to look at the countryside during our long, slow 
journey The green paddy fields on both sides of the road were interspersed with 
orchards and vegetable plots, and appeared much more fertile than the ones 1 
had seen during the war. Moreover, water buffaloes were no longer the only 
source of power in the countryside; light tractors drove along the roads towing 
trailers loaded with farm products or chemical fertilizer. Although I was tired 
from the journey, I was heartened and excited by the progress 1 saw. 

Since we had to cross five waterways by barge it was dusk by the time 
we reached Guangzhou. The city seemed little changed since the war, except 
for a handful of grey, Soviet-style government buildings and a few high-rise 
hotels, some of which were from the pre-war era. Thanks to Lao Huang we 
checked into the People's Hotel which, at fifteen storeys, was the tallest building 
in the city and one of the better hotels in the downtown area. Because of the 
shortage of good facilities, first-class hotels in Guangzhou (as in other cities 
in China) were reserved for foreigners, second-class hotels were reserved for 
Hong Kong residents and overseas Chinese, and PRC visitors to the city had to 
stay in third-class hotels. Local people could not even enter first- and second- 
class hotels without approval, but the attentive and ever-reliable Lao Huang 
had obtained permits for all of my relatives in Guangzhou to visit us at the 
People's Hotel. More importantly, he had secured the necessary approvals for 
my youngest brother, Yuan Kwong, to travel from Nanning in Guangxi to meet 
us in Guangzhou. 

The next morning we were taken on a sightseeing tour of the city in a 
motorcar belonging to the municipal government. Before we started, Lao Huang 
gave us a long briefing on the geography and history of Guangzhou, and the 
overall political and economic situation in China. At first 1 was impatient to 
leave the hotel and see the city, but then 1 realized that Lao Huang only wanted 
to carry out his duty, give us a good impression and make sure we understood 
New China, so 1 listened to his talk obligingly. 

Guangzhou was hot and humid, like Hong Kong, and full of narrow streets 
crowded with low-rise tenement houses. Aside from our car, the only other 
motor vehicles on the roads were the occasional military truck or heavily- 
packed public bus. During commuting hours the streets would turn into a sea 
of bicycles, and the din from the ringing of their bells and the honking of the 
trucks and buses caught in the traffic was almost deafening. We were grateful to 

New China 139 

be sitting in a motorcar, but we felt rather uneasy as people stared at us through 
the windows and wondered who we were. 

Our tour included the many sites related to China's past revolutions: the 
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, the Mausoleum of Revolutionary Martyrs, which 
commemorated the National Revolution of 1911, and the former Whampao 
Military Academy, which had trained many military and political leaders from 
both the Nationalist and the Communist camps. Guangzhou was the "Holy 
Land of Chinese Revolutions", and I had known the names of these memorials 
ever since 1 began to learn about China's modern history. Now that I was finally 
standing at these "sacred sites", 1 seized the opportunity to reflect on the efforts 
and sacrifices of these early revolutionaries and pay them my respects. Lao 
Huang must have been happy to see how impressed I was by these historical 

After our city tour, Lao Huang conveniently excused himself and left us 
alone for the next two days so that we could spend time with our relatives. That 
evening, 1 hosted dinner at the hotel for our close relatives: my brother' Tse 
Kwong and his family, my youngest brother Yuan Kwong (who had just arrived 
from Nanning), and Wing Kin's sister Tse Kiu, her brothers Po Kwong and Tsok 
Po and their families. They had all gone back to China during the 1950s to join 
the Communist revolution, and Wing Kin and I had not seen them for more 
than twenty years. 

The Price of Patriotism 

Our relatives were very excited when they entered the hotel dining room, and 
were not only happy to see us but also pleased to be able to enjoy the hotel 
facilities, which were normally reserved for foreign guests and high-ranking 
cadres. We rushed to shake hands and hug each other. Tears streamed down 
Mother's cheeks, and Wing Kin, Tse Kiu and Yim Sheung, Tse Kwong's wife, were 
also sobbing with joy. We started shouting all at once: "Long time no see!" "How 
are you?" and "1 missed you so much". Some of us even asked, "Why didn't you 
write or telephone?" even though we all knew that communication between the 
Mainland and Hong Kong was taboo during the Cultural Revolution. 

1 grabbed Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong by their hands and called their 
names as they, also overwhelmed, called me "Third Brother" repeatedly. Tse 
Kwong and I had been very close when we were growing up, sharing intimate 
thoughts and feelings with each other and holding similar views on life, but as 
we now lived in entirely different worlds we had not seen or talked to each other 
for the past twenty years. We had both grown middle-aged, but I was surprised 
to see Tse Kwong looking older than his years; his face was puffed and his hair 
visibly greying. Although he assured us that he was fine, Yim Sheung later told 

140 The Dragon and the Crown 

me that he had developed hypertension from stress and exhaustion during the 
early years of the Cultural Revolution. 

I was even more surprised and saddened by the sight of Yuan Kwong. 
Unshaven and wearing a worn-out Mao suit, he seemed over-excited and kept 
on talking loudly completely oblivious of others around him. I had heard from 
Mother that Yuan Kwong had suffered severely during the Cultural Revolution, 
but I was unprepared for this change in my youngest brother. There were many 
questions I wanted to ask him, but I was too busy talking to our other relatives 
during the banquet. 

1 found out more about Yuan Kwong when we visited Tse Kwongs house 
the next day. Soon after we sat down, Yim Sheung started to tease Yuan Kwong. 
"You need to find a wife to take care of you," she said. Yuan Kwong stared at the 
floor and was at a loss for words; it was evident that he was not in a position to 
start a family, although he had already turned forty. 

Rather than worrying about Yuan Kwongs marriage prospects, I was more 
concerned about his state of mind and his future. As Yuan Kwong had attended 
the highly prestigious Peking University and was the only university graduate 
among us, he should have been able to pursue a good, productive career. Instead, 
like many other young people at that time, he had been deeply embroiled in the 
violent upheavals of the Cultural Revolution. When we met in Guangzhou, 
Yuan Kwong had just been released from "isolation for investigation" for his 
alleged involvement with the "516 Anti-Revolutionary Group". (16 May 1966 
was the date of the official notification from the Communist Party Politburo 
that heralded the start of the Cultural Revolution.) After almost two years of 
confinement, the party cadres could not find enough evidence to charge him, 
but neither were they ready to send him back to work. He was able to meet us 
only because Lao Huang had sent a telegram to the Revolutionary Committee 
of the Nanning City government asking for special permission for him to travel 
to Guangzhou. 

Yuan Kwong became actively involved in the Cultural Revolution almost 
from the start. When one of Nannings high officials came under attack, Yuan 
Kwong put up a "Big Character Poster" (a wall posting then widely used for 
expressing political opinions) in his defence, which immediately drew attacks 
upon himself from the opposing camp. Meanwhile, as the Cultural Revolution 
escalated, the Guangxi armed forces started to take sides and opened fire on each 
other; heavy armed conflicts broke out in the streets of Nanning and other cities 
in the province, killing tens of thousands of people. Fearing for his life. Yuan 
Kwong asked Tse Kwong for help, and Tse Kwong quickly sent him a telegram: 
"Mother ill; come immediately." With this in hand. Yuan Kwong managed to 
board a train for Guangzhou. Our cousin Sai Kwong, who also lived in Nanning. 
sent one of his daughters to tail Yuan Kwong on the train and make sure that he 

New China 141 

was safe. By then, however, Sai Kwong himself had come under attack for being 
a spy from Hong Kong, and was repeatedly paraded in the streets and beaten by 
Red Guards. 

After a brief stay in Tse Kwongs house in Guangzhou, Yuan Kwong decided 
that it would be safer to move on. He escaped to Wuhan and then Beijing, but 
was eventually sent back to Nanning, where he was accused of being "anti- 
party" and thrown into a "study group" with thirteen other cadres, some of them 
high-ranking city officials. They were kept under "protective confinement" in a 
small school building from September 1968 to May 1969, and had to undergo 
"criticism and self-criticism" sessions almost daily. The living conditions in 
these confinement quarters were generally so poor that they were often referred 
to as "cow sheds". Yuan Kwong was adamant that he had not been physically 
abused during his confinement in the "cow shed", but I found this hard to 
believe based on what 1 had heard about the Cultural Revolution. 

In May 1969, local Revolutionary Committees received new directives 
from Beijing to send all government officials to "May 7 Cadre Schools" (so 
called because the directive from Mao Zedong to "re-educate" the cadres was 
issued on that day). Yuan Kwong was released from the "cow shed" and sent 
to a cadre school outside Liuzhou, where he laboured for over two years in an 
orange orchard. Then, in August 1971, his political fate took another turn — he 
was suspected of being a member of the "516 Anti-Revolutionary Group" and 
committing "serious political errors". Although later findings reportedly showed 
that the group never existed, Yuan Kwong was "isolated for investigation" for 
the next two years and was released only in February 1973, a few months before 
he came to meet us in Guangzhou. 

Despite his ordeal during the Cultural Revolution, Yuan Kwong remained 
a staunch supporter of the Communist Party leadership. When he recounted 
his experiences to us in Guangzhou, he insisted that the party was correct and 
that any mistakes were made by individuals who had wrongly interpreted party 
policies. More than ten years later, Yuan Kwong finally received a Decree of the 
Party Committee of Nanning City, dated 20 December 1983, stating that all 
previous allegations against him were unfounded, and that he was innocent. I 
heaved a deep sigh of relief when he sent me a copy of this decree but, by this 
time, Yuan Kwong was fifty-one and his health was faltering; I missed the boy of 
seventeen who had left home in high spirits so long ago to join the revolution. 

Tse Kwong was twenty-three when he left home. He was the first of us to 
be attracted to communist ideology, but he had always been more analytical 
and level-headed and, unlike Yuan Kwong, he had already developed some 
reservations about the party's policies when we met in Guangzhou. 

When the Cultural Revolution started, Tse Kwong was the deputy head of 
the Art Section in the Cultural Bureau of the Guangdong Provincial Government 

142 The Dragon and the Crown 

and his wife, Yim Sheung, was a well-known Cantonese Opera singer. Tse 
Kwong soon came under attack in three areas: (1) following a heixian ("black" 
or subversive line) in cultural policies; (2) belonging to the heibang ("black" 
or subversive gang) of Hong Xiannu, the most famous Cantonese Opera singer 
at that time (whom Tse Kwong had helped recruit to serve New China); and 
(3) maintaining "suspicious Hong Kong-Macao connections", a euphemism for 
espionage. Tse Kwong successfully defended himself against all three charges, 
but when the "May 7" directive came out in 1969, both he and Yim Sheung 
were sent to cadre schools along with other officials for "re-education". "We 
had to leave right away," he recalled. "We barely had time to ask our helper to 
stay in our house and take care of our two sons, who had just started primary 

Tse Kwong and Yim Sheung were both "sent down" to labour in Yingde 
County in central Guangdong for two years. Tse Kwong grew vegetables on a 
farm while Yim Sheung worked in the kitchen of a tea plantation. Even though 
they were in the same county, they seldom had the chance to see each other or 
to go back to Guangzhou to visit their sons, Niandong and Nianfeng. Mother 
tried to visit her two grandsons in Guangzhou as often as she could, bringing 
with her canned food, clothing and other supplies that were in severe shortage. 
Niandong, the elder son, had to join Yim Sheung at the tea plantation a year 
later because the helper could no longer take care of both boys. 

Tse Kwong was able to escape political persecution in Yingde since he had 
defended himself successfully against the heibang label, but he was still not 
fully trusted by the "revolutionaries". As a result, he was exempt from most 
political activities and his two-year stay in Yingde was relatively peaceful. By the 
time we met in Guangzhou, Tse Kwong had re-located back to the city and was 
ready to move on. "I had some reservations about the party's policies," he said 
later. "But then I believed that the worst was over. 1 told myself that we were 
not the only ones affected; many other families also suffered. I was ready to put 
this experience behind me." It was not until 1976, when he heard about the 
bloodshed in Tiananmen Square when a large gathering to commemorate the 
death of Premier Zhou Enlai was violently suppressed, that Tse Kwong started 
to seriously question some of the party's policies. 

When we visited Tse Kwong and his family in 1973, the Cultural Revolution 
was still going on and life in the city had not yet returned to normal. Even 
though Niandong and Nianfeng attended school, classes were often not in 
session, and they spent a lot of time working in nearby farms and factories. 
Sometimes they would work as extras in Yim Sheung's opera troupe, playing 
the role of the soldiers who followed the generals on stage, performed stunts, 
and waved their spears or sabres in the air while the generals sang arias and 
displayed their prowess at martial arts. 

New China 143 

Despite their political ordeals, however, Tse Kwong and Yim Sheung's 
living conditions were relatively comfortable in Guangzhou, where they lived 
in a three-storey brick building on a narrow cobblestone lane close to the city 
centre. The cement on the surface of the building had turned a patchy grey with 
age and neglect, peeling off in some places, and the rooms inside had only bare 
cement floors and sparse wooden furniture. Nevertheless, with piped water, 
electricity and about a thousand square feet of living space, the house was the 
envy of many families in the neighbourhood. The biggest drawback was the lack 
of a flushing toilet, so the "night soil" collector had to come every evening to 
empty the waste bucket. 

At that time Tse Kwong was a Grade 20 official with a monthly salary of 50 
yuan, which was higher than the 36 yuan a month paid to the lowest-ranked, 
Grade 24 officials but still not enough to afford the relative comfort they lived 
in. Fortunately, as an opera singer Yim Sheung received a handsome monthly 
salary of 165 yuan, and her mother owned the house they lived in and let them 
stay free of charge. Yim Sheung was thus able to pay the bus fares and buy us 
soft drinks and snacks as she led us on a tour of the city over the next two 

Since we no longer had the use of a car we had to tour the city by bus 
and on foot. The buses were infrequent and very crowded, so many residents 
preferred to commute by bicycle regardless of the sometimes long distances 
involved; as a result all the major streets were over-run by a river of bicycles 
from dawn until dusk, especially during rush hours. 

Walking on the streets gave us a different perspective of Guangzhou. 
Despite the grime and decay of the city's old tenement houses, 1 was pleasantly 
surprised to find that the streets were clean and litter-free. Few residents wanted 
to discard anything since all daily necessities were in short supply, so everything 
was recycled: old newspapers were recycled as wrapping paper; empty soya sauce 
bottles became kitchen containers; and old clothes and shoes were patched, 
mended and re-used. Moreover, the city had put spittoons and rubbish bins 
on the street curbs at intervals of about fifty metres. Life in Guangzhou was 
therefore quite hygienic and environmentally friendly. 

I wished for more colour on the streets, however. Against the background 
of drab, grey buildings, men and women alike wore loose-fitting white shirts 
and trousers in only two colours: grey and dark blue. Soldiers on leave wore 
loose olive-green uniforms. The only colours which brightened the street scenes 
were the brightly-coloured, often floral-patterned skirts of young school girls 
and the red scarves knotted around the necks of the honour students called 
"Young Pioneers". The shops had a limited supply of goods for sale, and the 
window displays were sparse and unattractive. Only designated Friendship 
Stores carried better-quality clothes, foods and artworks, but they were open 

144 The Dragon and the Crown 

only to foreigners and overseas Chinese and accepted only foreign exchange 
coupons. Officially I was not entitled to shop at these stores since I belonged to 
the category of Hong Kong and Macao compatriots but, with Lao Huang's help, 
I was able to go into a Friendship Store to buy some imported candies, cigarettes 
and liquor as gifts for my relatives. 

At the end of our Guangzhou tour, we visited the home of Tse Kiu, Wing 
Kin's older sister who had chosen to stay and serve the new regime when 
Communist forces took over the city in 1949. Tse Kiu and her husband, a veteran 
soldier of peasant origin from the north, lived with their adopted daughter in a 
single-storey government flat in the Henan district in the southern part of the 
city. I was appalled by its dilapidated condition, with cracks all over the roof 
and walls, dim lamps and leaking taps. The apartment badly needed repairs 
which the couple could not afford on their meagre salaries, and although Tse 
Kiu appeared contented enough, 1 felt depressed after seeing her home. Like my 
younger brothers, Tse Kiu had gone back to China to participate in the country's 
"socialist construction", but twenty years later her living conditions were even 
worse than when she was living in Hong Kong before the war. 

I was generally dismayed by my experiences in Guangzhou. My relatives 
had all gone back to the Mainland with high hopes of building a strong New 
China. Instead, while Hong Kong had grown and prospered during the past 
two decades, Guangzhou seemed to have been frozen in time. My relatives had 
spent some of the best years of their lives working for their country, but they 
were forced to live in poor conditions and endure repeated political ordeals. 1 
said goodbye to Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong with mixed feelings when we left 
for Beijing to continue our tour; 1 was overjoyed to have seen them again, but 
my heart ached when 1 thought about what they had to live through. 

My spirits only lifted when we arrived in Beijing Airport. As we climbed 
down to the tarmac, we were greeted by groups of school children in colourful 
uniforms holding flowers in their hands and chanting: 'huan ying, huan ying" 
(welcome, welcome). They had come to greet the aeroplanes main passengers 
— delegates from Southeast Asian countries who had arrived to participate in 
the Asia-Africa-Latin America Ping Pong Tournament in Beijing. The event was 
an extension of Chinas "Ping Pong Diplomacy" with the US, which started in 
1971 as part of the country's efforts to break out of its political isolation. 

Two black Shanghai-brand sedans, which resembled the Mercedes cars of 
pre-war vintage, waited for us outside the airport building; Lao Huang got into 
one, and our whole family got into the other. Our destination was the Beijing 
Hotel — a majestic seven-storey building on Changan Avenue overlooking 
Tiananmen Square — which, at that time, was reserved primarily for foreign 
businessmen and tourists. Again, 1 was sure that we could stay there onlv 
because we were targets of the United Front. 

New China 145 

At my request, we started our Beijing tour in Tiananmen Square because 
it best symbolized New China for me. As I stood in the middle of the square, 
facing Tiananmen Gate, I recalled the black-and-white photograph of Chairman 
Mao on the gate tower, proclaiming to the whole world on 1 October 1949, 
"The Chinese people have stood up!" All at once, I was seized by a surge of 
national pride. 

In the middle of the square was the Monument to the Peoples Heroes, a 
flat obelisk erected on a stone terrace that commemorated the struggles of the 
Chinese people against oppression during the past century and a half, including 
the burning of opium in 1839, the National Revolution of 1911 and the May 
4 Movement of 1919. When I described these events to my daughters, 1 was 
surprised that they knew very little about them, but Wing Kin, who had taught 
in schools in Hong Kong, explained that the government's education policy 
was to avoid talking about modern Chinese history in schools or textbooks. I 
was also disappointed to see that local tourists who posed for pictures on the 
monument never bothered to look closely at the reliefs depicting the historical 
events. Unlike them, I felt strongly that we should study these sculptures 
carefully, pay our respects to the fallen heroes, and try to learn from history. For 
me, the search for a strong, modern and democratic China was still in progress; 
as Dr. Sun Yat-sen said in his Last Will and Testament, "The Revolution has not 
yet been successfully concluded. Let all our comrades continue to make every 
effort to carry it out." 

For my family as a whole, the highlight of our tour was, inevitably, the 
Great Wall. We began our adventure at Badaling ("Eight Prominent Peaks") 
Pass, the northern outpost of Juyongguan ("Dwelling-in-Harmony") Pass, 
which was about fifty kilometres northwest of Beijing and one of the best- 
known fortifications of ancient China. This section of the Great Wall was a 
truly magnificent sight. True to the saying, "If you have not been to the Great 
Wall, you cannot be a brave man", we felt absolutely on top of the world as 
we completed the steep climb and stood on the highest point of the wall at 
Badaling, where the undulating mountains and rolling plains stretched out as 
far as we could see. First built in the seventh century bc, the Great Wall had 
become the predominant symbol of China's national identity and resistance 
against foreign incursions. I was totally exhilarated, and as I stood behind the 
parapet and reflected on China's long history, scene after scene of the countless 
battles against foreign invading armies flashed across my mind. 

On our way back to Beijing. Mother, who did not climb the Great Wall with 
us, suggested that we stop at Juyongguan. I readily agreed, knowing that this 
would be her own rendezvous with history. In the centre of the Juyongguan 
pass, framed by steep mountain slopes on both sides, was an elevated stone 
platform called Yuntai (Cloud Terrace) which was almost in ruins. According 

146 The Dragon and the Crown 

to legend, this was the place where Mu Guiying, a well-known general of 
the Song dynasty, inspected her troops in preparation for their battle against 
the Liao armies invading from the north. Mu was one of the legendary "Yang 
Women Generals" — a group of women warriors from the Yang family who 
took the place of their brothers or husbands who had died in battle. The story 
captured the imagination of many generations of Chinese women and was one 
of Mothers favourite Cantonese operas. Before leaving Yuntai we took a picture 
of Mother seated on the ruins of a stone foundation, embraced by the serenity 
of the surrounding woods and the warm summer sun. Mothers radiant smile 
showed her heart-felt pride and satisfaction, and she later displayed the framed 
picture on her dresser at home. 

We spent the next few days touring the capitals historical sites — the Ming 
Tombs, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace — 
which gave us an even deeper feel for Chinese history. Towards the end of our 
sightseeing, we took a break and visited Wing Kins older sister, Shook Ling, 
who had moved to Beijing from Guangzhou, where she had chosen to stay when 
Communist troops took over the city in 1949. Shook Ling and her husband Ho 
Ling Fai lived in the Dongcheng district in the eastern part of the city; their 
three children, who were all working, had moved out. Their house was part 
of a siheyuan — a compound bordered on four sides by single-storey houses 
which opened into a common courtyard — which had been the typical form 
of housing in Beijing for several centuries. Constructed in the late Ming and 
Qing dynasties, most of the siheyuan were linked to the main streets by winding 
narrow alleys, called hutong, which were often accessible only to bicycles, 
tricycles and horse-drawn carts. Almost all the siheyuan have been demolished 
in recent years to make way for the construction of high-rise buildings. 

Shook Ling's house faced a courtyard which had trees and flowers in the 
middle and tiny plots of vegetables on each of the four sides. Since it was 
summer, some families had placed chairs outside their houses to sit and cool off 
in the evenings. Shook Ling, who was watering her vegetable garden when we 
entered the compound, rushed over to give us all a big hug without pausing to 
wipe her hands. Her husband was well paid as a railway engineer so their house 
had been refurbished and looked quite comfortable, but the three other houses 
around the siheyuan needed major repairs; torn, faded "Big Character Posters" 
still hung on the walls of the compound. 

Gentle and artistic by nature , Shook Ling had never been a fiery revolutionai \ : 
and her support for the CCP had cooled down considerably after the Great 
Leap Forward in 1958-60 when Mao Zedong's industrialization campaign failed 
and tens of millions starved to death. "The residents of this siheyuan had to 
help construct the Ming Tombs Reservoir during the Great Leap Forward," she 
recalled. "All able-bodied residents had to go, including women and children. 

New China 147 

except for Ling Fai, whose job as a railway engineer was considered far more 
important. For more than a year, my children and I had to dig and carry mud, 
stones and rocks using only shovels, bamboo baskets and even our bare hands. 
We toiled from daybreak till sunset with little rest, food or drink, until our hands 
were bleeding. We had to continue because anyone who complained would be 
considered unpatriotic or unfaithful to Chairman Mao, which was a crime in 
those days. We were each awarded a "Labour Hero" medal when the project was 
completed. Some people felt very proud, but 1 had really mixed feelings about 

"It was even worse during the Cultural Revolution," Shook Ling continued, 
raising her voice. "The whole country was in chaos. People were encouraged 
to turn on each other; children were told to denounce their parents; and 
neighbours and colleagues spied on each other. Antiques were smashed or 
crushed to pieces; books in foreign languages and religious works were burnt. 
Thousands upon thousands of people were condemned, beaten and dispatched 
to factories or farms for ideological re-education. Many who could not bear the 
hardship or humiliation took their own lives." 

With the exception of Ling Fai, who was again exempt, Shook Ling and 
her children had to leave their home for the countryside: Shook Ling went to a 
Beijing suburb, her two sons went to Inner Mongolia, and her daughter to the 
southern part of Hebei Province. They did not see each other for three years. 
"The Cultural Revolution was a nightmare for me, my family and all the people 
of China," Shook Ling lamented as she leaned back in her chair. Fortunately, 
she and her family survived. 

We listened to Shook Lings story with heavy hearts, although we were 
relieved to see that her life was now relatively comfortable. After leaving her 
house, we tried to relax by strolling around our hotel and doing some shopping 
on Wangfujing Street. My spirits revived as we mingled with the people on 
the street. Beijing residents were polite, helpful and generally friendlier than 
the people we met in Guangzhou, but they were also more curious since they 
had less opportunity to meet outside visitors. With our colourful shirts and 
Western-style trousers we stood out clearly in the crowd of people wearing only 
white, blue and grey, and they would stop on the street to stare at us. Younger 
people were especially attracted by the Leica 35mm camera hanging around 
my neck and some of them asked to see it, which usually drew a large crowd 
around us. When I tried to strike up a conversation with the onlookers I had 
to struggle with my rusty, Cantonese-accented Mandarin, and often had to use 
sign language or writing to communicate. Beijing citizens generally had not 
the foggiest notion about Hong Kong and were immensely curious about the 

148 The Dragon and the Crown 

The end of our visit to Beijing coincided with the opening of the Asia- 
Africa-Latin America Ping Pong Tournament, an important event for the 
Chinese government intended to convey a message to the international 
community that China had friends all over the world. The tournament 
was held at the newly built Capital Gymnasium, one of the most modern 
buildings in the city at that time. Eager to participate in this historical event, 
Beijing citizens rushed for tickets and seats were quickly sold out. However, 
Lao Huang was able to get us five front-row seats right at the centre of the 
spectators' stand, across from the VIP boxes where Beijing's diplomatic corps 
and high-ranking government officials were seated. We were delighted to 
see Premier Zhou Enlai, who officiated at the opening ceremony and spoke 
eloquently about friendship and unity within the Third World. "Friendship 
first; competition second" was the big slogan on huge red banners hanging 
on the stadium walls. In spite of this slogan, the Chinese team won almost 
every event that day and their achievement filled me with immense pride; I 
felt for the first time that the days when the Japanese derided China as the 
"sick man of East Asia" were finally over. 

After the ping pong tournament, Lao Huang took us on a ride in the newly 
opened Beijing underground railway "Look, Lao Kwan, our country is not as 
backward as most foreigners think. We already have a subway system!" Lao 
Huang said proudly as we entered the underground station at the Military 
Museum. It was truly an eye-opener for us, especially since Hong Kong did not 
have its underground Mass Transit Railway at that time. The marble walls and 
platforms, with large chandeliers hanging from the vaulted ceilings, reminded 
me of photographs I had seen of the Moscow subway. Every inhabitant of 
Beijing seemed to want to try out the new railway, and all the platforms and 
carriages were packed with passengers. Although the train, which was made 
in China, was poorly ventilated and rather noisy we thoroughly enjoyed our 
sixteen-kilometre ride from the Military Museum station to the Beijing Railway 
Terminal station. After we returned to Hong Kong, Yvonne told her classmates 
that she had travelled on the subway in Beijing but no one. including her teacher, 
believed her. She burst into tears when she came home and told me; I despaired 
at her teacher's ignorance which I believed showed another of the shortcomings 
of Hong Kongs colonial education system. 

A United Front Target 

The evening before we left, Lao Huang was waiting for us at the hotel lobby 
when we returned from our last-minute shopping. Apologizing to Wing Kin. 
Lao Huang invited me to go to the top floor of the hotel to meet someone \\ ho 
he said was very important. 1 promised Wing Kin that 1 would return early to 

New China 149 

help her pack, but it was midnight before I went back to our room and our 
daughters were already fast asleep. 

Lao Huang and I took the elevator up to the penthouse and entered an 
elegantly decorated meeting room with large glass windows and a panoramic 
view of the city since the Beijing Hotel was then the tallest building in the 
capital. Standing in the middle of the room to greet us was a tall, middle-aged 
man in a dark grey well-tailored Mao suit. We shook hands. 

"This is Comrade Yan," Lao Huang said with emphasis. "He is the 'person 
responsible' at the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council who 
arranged your New China tour." 

I never discovered the exact rank or official position of Comrade Yan, or 
whether Yan was even his real name; all 1 knew was that one of his duties must 
have been to recruit overseas Chinese to return and work for the motherland. 
In this respect, his office and the United Front Department of the CCP seemed 
to complement each other. 

Comrade Yan smiled and asked me to sit next to him on the sofa. A waitress 
in a bright red ankle-length cheongsam (qipao) with a stiff collar and high slits 
on the sides — an unusual sight on the Mainland at that time — offered us tea 
and Zhonghua (China) brand cigarettes. Lao Huang immediately lit a cigarette, 
but 1 declined the offer and took only tea. 

"Welcome to Beijing, Mr. Kwan," Comrade Yen began casually. "Has 
Comrade Huang taken good care of you and your family?" 

1 thanked him and Lao Huang sincerely for all the services and courtesies 
extended to us during our visit. Lao Huang smiled modestly but did not join in 
the conversation. 

"Through our sources in Hong Kong, we are well aware of your background 
and views," Comrade Yen continued. "Like your brothers on the Mainland, you 
are a patriot. We regard you as a comrade." 

"How did you enjoy your trip?" he asked eagerly. "And what is your 
impression of China?" 

1 knew that this was the final debriefing for my tour and he wanted to hear 
my views. I was prepared to be frank with him. 

"1 learned a lot about Chinas history on this trip," I replied, "and I am glad 
for the opportunity to see New China, even superficially. But I am surprised by 
the poor living conditions of the ordinary people. Beijing is the capital and yet its 
citizens have to live in old, crowded houses, eat coarse, rationed food, and wear 
shabby, dull-coloured, unisex clothes. They have to ride their bicycles for long 
distances or pack into overcrowded buses to go to work every day I feel guilty 
that my family and I have been given such good treatment in comparison. To tell 
the truth, 1 am quite disappointed by the general lack of economic development 
in the country." 

150 The Dragon and the Crown 

Yan nodded acknowledgement but tried to draw my attention to the advances 
that China had recently made on both the domestic and international fronts. 

"Premier Zhou Enlai has already announced the Four Modernizations 
Programme for agriculture, industry, science and technology, and defence," he 
said. "The country will soon see great progress in these areas." 

"The United Nations General Assembly recognized the People's Republic as 
the sole legitimate government of China the year before, and Vice Minister Qiao 
Guanhua spoke to the General Assembly," Yan continued. "The voice of New 
China was heard in the United Nations for the first time!" 

"How did you feel when you heard this good news in Hong Kong?" he 
asked me pointedly. 

"That was an exciting moment for me," 1 said with genuine emotion. "1 was 
greatly moved by Vice Minister Qiao's speech; I felt very proud to be Chinese." 

Both Comrade Yan and Lao Huang broke into a broad smile. 

"Our Ambassador to the UN, Huang Hua, pronounced that the questions 
of Hong Kong and Macao were entirely within China's sovereign right," Yan 
continued, "and the Chinese government has consistently held that these 
questions should be settled in an appropriate way when conditions are ripe. 
What do you think about that, Mr. Kwan?" 

The phrase "when conditions are ripe" had left many people in Hong 
Kong and Macao in suspense, albeit with dramatically different reactions: some 
wished that the settlement date would come as soon as possible; others hoped 
that it would not occur for a long, long time. 

"I don't have any particular opinion about it." 1 said truthfully, "but one 
thing is certain: from now on no one can challenge the fact that Hong Kong and 
Macao must be returned to the motherland, whether they like it or not." 

Comrade Yan seemed satisfied with my answer. 

"Even though the US has continued to maintain official relations with the 
government of Taiwan," he said, "it could not ignore us forever, which was why 
President Nixon came to China and met Chairman Mao." 

Obviously excited by the detente between the PRC and the US, Yan was 
eager to talk about President Nixon's visit. 

"Vice Minister Qiao Guanhua was the principal advisor to Premier Zhou 
on US-China relations and the drafting of the Shanghai Communique. He was 
Henry Kissinger's counterpart during the meetings." 

"In case you wondered, the women who spoke such good English and 
interpreted for the Chairman and the Premier were Tang Wensheng and Zhang 
Hanzhi. Tang Wensheng, who grew up in New York City, is the daughter of 
Tang Mingzhao, the deputy to Vice Minister Qiao in the Chinese delegation to 
the UN. Tang Mingzhao returned to China with his family in the early 1950s to 
serve the motherland. Zhang Hanzhi is the daughter of Zhang Shizhao." 

New China 151 

Zhang Shizhao was a renowned scholar and high-ranking former Nationalist 
official who had defected to the Communist camp, and Zhang Hanzhi later 
married Qiao Guanhua. 1 was not sure why Yan told me all this; perhaps he 
wanted to show me how overseas Chinese intellectuals and even Nationalist 
officials supported the Communist cause. 

"We need to build a New China," he said enthusiastically, leaning over to 
put his hand on my shoulder. "With your qualifications — your experience 
in working with Western military officers and diplomats, your proficiency in 
foreign languages, and your knowledge about banking and finance — and with 
relatives already serving the People's Government, you can have a promising 
career in our Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Foreign Economic 
Relations and Trade." 

"Comrade Kwan, given the right opportunity, you could be a Qiao Guanhua 
of tomorrow!" 

I was startled and embarrassed by his flattery and mumbled a vague reply 
while 1 pondered what he had just said. 

"Lao Kwan can do it!" Lao Huang, who had remained largely silent during 
our conversation, chimed in heartily. 

Unfortunately, Comrade Yan's prognostication about a new political 
direction did not materialize, not immediately anyway. As soon as we arrived 
back in Hong Kong the next day, I read about the startling events at the First 
Plenum of the Tenth National Congress of the CCP: Jiang Qing, Chairman Mao's 
wife; Wang Hungwen, a former Shanghai security officer; Zhang Chunqiao, a 
Shanghai propagandist; and Yao Wenyuan, a journalist, had seized control of the 
party apparatus. This Gang of Four, as they were later called, tried to discredit 
Premier Zhou and the Four Modernizations Programme, thus effectively 
prolonging the Cultural Revolution. 

The rise of the Gang of Four seemed to have undercut the United Front's 
efforts. After my return to Hong Kong, 1 saw Lao Huang less and less frequently 
and eventually lost contact with him. Later on 1 tried to find out what had 
happened to him from Tarn Ting Kwong, who had introduced us, but Tarn could 
tell me only that Lao Huang had been recalled to Beijing for a new assignment. 
I never saw him again. 

The Cultural Revolution finally ended in 1976 when the Gang of Four were 
arrested following the death of Chairman Mao. The fall of the Gang of Four 
brought the illustrious career of Qiao Guanhua to an abrupt end; Qiao and his 
wife, Zhang Hanzhi, were accused of conspiring with the Gang of Four and 
held under arrest for the next two years. Qiao Guanhua subsequently faded 
from public view and died in 1983. For those of us who were inspired by him 
during our youth in Hong Kong and wanted to use our knowledge of Western 
languages and culture to serve New China, Qiao's distinguished career but 
ultimate downfall mirrored our hopes, fears and potential destinies. 

152 The Dragon and the Crown 


When the Cultural Revolution ended, the PRC government resumed its 
United Front work in order to regain the hearts and minds of the Hong Kong 
people. Pro-PRC institutions started to organize mainland tours for different 
sectors in Hong Kong, including banking, trading, shipping, publishing, 
education and labour unions. The response was enthusiastic. With the end 
of the Cultural Revolution, the people of Hong Kong began to change their 
attitude towards the Mainland, and "Return to the motherland to witness her 
reconstruction" became a popular slogan and almost a fashion. Under this 
new political climate, Hang Seng Bank had to relax its staff policy regarding 
visits to the Mainland. 

Hang Seng itself became the target of the United Front in May 1977 when 
the Bank of Chinas Hong Kong Branch extended an invitation to several officers 
of the bank, including myself, to visit the Mainland. The visit would focus on 
the Northeast — the country's main base for heavy industry since its occupation 
by the Japanese in the 1930s. The region had received heavy investment from 
Beijing since 1949, as well as intensive technical assistance from the Soviet 
Union during the 1950s, but it had been closed to outsiders for decades because 
of its strategic importance and had only recently been re-opened to visitors. 
Excited by this opportunity five of us from Hang Seng accepted the invitation 
for the tour. 

We had to register with Kung Yulong, a sub-manager of Bank of China who 
would serve as our tour organizer. A Shandong native in his late thirties, Kung 
was fit and energetic, though not as tall and erect as the Hong Kong stereotype 
for people from that province. (Before the war, Shangdong natives were often 
recruited by the colony's police force because of their outstanding physique.) 
He was smartly dressed and a successful young bank executive in all aspects; 
although he spoke Mandarin with a heavy Shandong accent and his Cantonese 
was merely passable, he had no difficulty getting along with people in Hong 

We were joined on the tour by more than twenty officers from other banks in 
Hong Kong. During our introductory meeting, Kung announced that the group 
needed a leader and spokesman and, much to my surprise, recommended me 
enthusiastically for the job. So 1 was elected group leader, and a young woman 
banker volunteered to be the group secretary and to take notes during our visit. 
Kung later admitted to me that they had known about me all along and thought 
that 1 would make a good group leader; I could see that the United Front was 
at work again. During the tour, Kung would always defer to me and carefully 
position himself as my deputy but, in reality, he would prepare the itinerary and 
make all the travel arrangements and decisions. 

New China 153 

We toured northeast China for three weeks, first flying from Guangzhou 
to Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning Province and the largest city in the region, 
and then travelling by train to Fushun, Anshan, Changchun, Jilin and Dalian, 
all major industrial cities. On our way back, we flew first to Beijing and then 
to Guangzhou to take the train back to Hong Kong. We travelled first class 
throughout our trip and stayed in government guesthouses that were not open 
to ordinary tourists. 

Unlike Guangzhou in the South, the cities in the Northeast were cool and 
dry, with wide streets, large plazas and tall, stately Soviet-style buildings. The 
people seemed better housed, clothed and fed, but their exposure to outside 
visitors appeared to be almost non-existent. Whenever we strolled on the streets, 
we were immediately surrounded by large crowds of men, women and children 
who would often point at our cameras and Western-style suits. 

Of all the sites that we visited on our tour, including such well-known 
industrial complexes as Anshan Iron and Steel and the Beijing General 
Petrochemical Works, two enterprises held special meaning for me. The first 
was the Fengman Hydroelectirc Power Station on the Sunghua River in Jilin. 
The Sunghua River, which surrounded the city on three sides, was made famous 
by the patriotic song, "On the Sunghua River", which the Wuhan Ensemble 
sang in King's College in 1938; I was overwhelmed by memories of my school 
days as soon as I saw the river quietly flowing past me. 

The other enterprise that touched my heart was the No. 1 Motor Car Factory 
of Changchun, probably the best-known car manufacturer in China at that time. 
I had been fascinated by cars and assembly lines ever since I learned about Henry 
Ford at school, and how he pioneered the mass production of motor vehicles. 
I also had a long history of involvement with motor vehicles: working at Aunt 
Roses motor accessories firm in Liuzhou during the war; acting as a wartime 
interpreter in the motor transportation units of the armed forces; and working 
for Dodwell Motors in Hong Kong. I was therefore thoroughly thrilled to see a 
vehicle assembly line, for the first time, in Changchun and took detailed notes 
on its operation. The highlight of the day for me came at the end of our visit, 
when I was invited by the factory manager to take a ride with him in a finished 
black "Red Flag" limousine, which was the most deluxe and prestigious of the 
vehicles produced in China at that time and was reserved primarily for the use 
of important visitors and high-level officials. We took a test drive along the road 
next to the factory site, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. 

All the factory complexes we visited on our tour were model enterprises of 
China's heavy industry base, of which our hosts were very proud. With tens of 
thousands of workers and their families living on-site, these large enterprises 
were like cities, complete with post offices, police stations, hospitals, senior 
homes, orphanages, schools, recreation centres, parks, theatres, retail shops and 

154 The Dragon and the Crown 

government service departments. Each of our visits followed a set protocol. 
First, we would be greeted by the manager or chief engineer at a reception 
hall, and he would brief us on the history and operation of the enterprise. This 
was usually followed by a speech about the set-backs they suffered when the 
Soviet Union withdrew its assistance, and their subsequent success and pride 
in becoming self-reliant. Then the manager or chief engineer would lead us on 
a tour of the plants on the site, where the officers on duty would explain the 
operation of each unit and answer our questions. At the end of our tour we 
would return to the reception hall, where I would make a speech and tell our 
hosts how much we appreciated the tour. 

One of the most memorable speeches we heard on our trip was the one 
delivered by the chief engineer of the Beijing General Petrochemical Works 
regarding the transfer of technology from the Soviet Union. A stocky man in 
his early fifties, wearing a loose-fitting short-sleeved white shirt and baggy 
grey pants, the chief engineer impressed us with his great passion and deep 
conviction. "China was 'poor and blank 1 ," he said, gesturing emphatically. "It is 
very important to make full use of foreign technology and equipment and achieve 
the best results possible. We must follow the guidance of these four words: 
yong, pi, gai, chuang (use, criticize, alter, create). We have to make full use of 
imported technology and equipment, critically analyze their weaknesses, alter 
them to suit our needs, and try to create our own technology and equipment." 

The PRC was then recovering from its confrontation with the Soviet Union 
during the 1960s, and the Cold War between the Communist Bloc and the West 
was still ongoing. Since the country was effectively isolated from the rest of 
the world, the government had little choice but to emphasize self-reliance in 
developing the economy. Everywhere we went, factory managers and workers 
would tell us with pride and confidence that China could develop on its own 
strength. "Whatever foreigners can do, we can do also," they would say 

Nothing symbolized the Cold War and Chinas national security fears 
more than Beijing's Underground City. When Sino-Soviet relations sank to their 
lowest point and armed conflicts erupted at the border in 1969, Chairman Mao 
launched a movement to "deeply dig caves and extensively store grains" in 
anticipation of a nuclear attack. The citizens of Beijing responded enthusiastically 
and excavated huge underground areas beneath the city More than 300,000 
residents, including school children, dug a massive system of tunnels under the 
capital which totalled over thirty kilometres in length and covered an area of 
eighty-five square kilometres at depths of eight to eighteen metres. 

We visited the Underground City before leaving Beijing at the end of our 
tour. Entering through an entrance in the Dazhalan District, which used a 
garment shop as a front, we walked down a well-lit tunnel to the vast area 
underground. The city had three levels and offered a wide range of facilities, 

New China 155 

including a 1,000-seat theatre, a 500-bed hospital, clinics, air-raid precaution 
command posts, telecommunication centres, arsenals, dormitories, public 
baths, classrooms, grocery stores and granaries. With elaborate systems for 
ventilation and electricity generation, Beijing's Underground City was designed 
to hold a million people for up to four months, while they waited for the air 
to clear after a nuclear or chemical attack. The country's major cities had 
reportedly dug enough underground quarters to hold up to 60 percent of their 
population during the 1970s, and Beijing's Underground City was the largest 
and most comprehensive of all of them. After the Cold War ended, parts of the 
Underground City were converted to good use as shopping centres. 

Shortly after we returned to Hong Kong, Kung Yulong left the Bank of China 
to head up Hua Chiao Commercial bank, which later became part of the Bank 
of China Group. We continued to see each other over the next few years and 
were able to maintain the friendship that we developed during the trip. After 
our tour, I was able to express my opinions frankly to Kung, who was receptive 
since he had been exposed to Western culture and ideas in Hong Kong. 1 was 
impressed by Chinas ability to develop through self-reliance, I told him, but I 
felt that the West definitely held more advanced technology and management 
know-how, and self-reliance might not be the most effective way for China to 
modernize. Kung agreed with me, although he had to give verbal support to the 
policy of self-reliance during our tour. 

In 1979, two years after our tour of the Northeast, Deng Xiaoping announced 
his Reform and Opening policy which encouraged the import of foreign capital 
and technology for China's economic development. 

Changing Political Winds 

Hong Kong had been building the groundwork for economic growth in the more 
stable political environment of the 1970s, and was therefore well prepared to 
take advantage of Deng's new policy. Learning from the hard lessons of the 1960s, 
the Hong Kong government under Governor Murray MacLehose had launched 
a comprehensive programme to build social and economic infrastructure by 
investing heavily in housing, education, health and transportation, and by 
setting up the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). With this 
solid foundation, Hong Kong's economy picked up quickly after the global oil 
crisis of 1973-74; manufacturers expanded rapidly into higher value-added 
products such as toys, electronics and watches, which gradually dominated 
world markets and replaced textiles and garments as the colony's top exports. 

As the economy grew and living standards improved, however, wages also 
rose, which led to an overall increase in production costs that threatened to 
make Hong Kong exports less competitive. Fortunately, the timely opening of 

156 The Dragon and the Crown 

the mainland economy provided Hong Kong manufacturers with a solution: 
they could keep wages low by relocating their factories across the border to the 
Pearl River Delta, where the labour supply was still abundant and cheap. The 
early 1980s thus witnessed a massive relocation of production facilities from 
Hong Kong to the Mainland. By the mid-1980s, the weight of the manufacturing 
sector in the Hong Kong economy had dropped significantly and was overtaken 
by the service sector, including finance (and associated services), transportation 
and tourism. As a result of the opening of the mainland economy, Hong Kong 
transitioned from being a manufacturing hub to predominantly a financial 
centre, all within less than a decade. 

Hong Kong's prosperity and growing ties with the Mainland could not 
alleviate the colony's rising concerns about its political future, however. The 
lease that Britain had signed with China for the New Territories was due to expire 
in 1997 and, with a little more than ten years to make preparations, Hong Kong 
could no longer ignore the question of having to return to Chinese sovereignty. 
In this climate, Hang Seng Bank found itself facing a serious dilemma; although 
it had tried to minimize contacts with the PRC, it now had to plan for 1997 
and also consider doing business on the Mainland, where many of the bank's 
customers had moved their factories. 

Before the 1980s, Hang Seng's political stance had been "pro-Britain, 
befriend the US, and keep China at a distance." "The British are trustworthy," 
Chairman Ho used to say, and he thought the Americans were friendly and 
approachable. However, Chairman Ho and the senior management were wary 
of the CCP's policies, and were much more cautious in dealing with the PRC. 
While the bank's management kept in touch with Chinese officials and with 
the PRC state-owned banks and corporations in Hong Kong, their contacts 
were primarily limited to the occasional cocktail party or dinner. Many senior 
officers even ignored invitations to the PRC National Day celebrations held on 
1 October every year, which was undoubtedly the most prominent social and 
political event on the calendar within the pro-PRC community. 

In contrast, Hang Seng courted the Americans actively. As both the bank 
and its affiliate Dah Chong Hong had heavy business commitments in the US, 
Chairman Ho wanted to win the goodwill of the American consulate officials 
overseeing Hong Kong-US trade and economic relations. Every summer, Ho 
would invite the Consul General, key officials and their families to a grand 
garden party at his villa in Stanley, which had a tennis court, a swimming pool 
and access to Stanley Beach just across the street. Since Ho hardly spoke any 
English, Q.W. Lee usually played a lead role in the party, assisted by bank officers 
who dealt with international clients. Lee would also invite a number of English- 
speaking female staff from the bank to socialize with the wives of the American 
guests and keep an eye on the children. Since I had worked at the American 

New China 157 

Consulate General and had developed an easy rapport with the Americans, I 
was often assigned a key role in entertaining the guests. We would play tennis, 
swim in the pool and enjoy a sumptuous buffet dinner with a wide range of 
cuisine, including Cantonese barbecued pork and suckling pig, Japanese sushi, 
American roast beef, Canadian salmon, Australian oysters, and (everyone's 
favourite American fare) Coca Cola and ice cream. 

Hang Sengs senior management also entertained the British frequently, 
but usually in a more formal and discreet setting. Q.W. Lee would throw small 
dinner parties for the financial secretary and other senior officials in charge of 
the colony's financial and economic affairs, usually accompanied by Man Kwok 
Lau or Ho Tak Ching, who headed the bank's Foreign Division. I would attend 
from time to time. 

One of the bank's earliest senior government official guests was John 
Cowperthwaite, who was financial secretary during the 1960s and whom Lee 
came to know when he negotiated the sale of the bank's equity to Hongkong 
Bank. The deal was concluded smoothly with the government's blessing, and 
during Cowperthwaite's remaining career as financial secretary, Lee would 
occasionally take him out to dinner in order to maintain their relationship. 
Cowperthwaite first formulated the colonial government's policy of "positive 
non-intervention", which was later popularized by Philip Haddon-Cave, his 
successor as financial secretary from 1971 to 1981. Hong Kong had always been 
one of the freest economies in the world, with minimal tariffs and no controls 
over the movement of capital. To let the free market thrive, the government's 
policy was to keep regulations and taxes to a minimum, and to intervene only 
when the market failed (for example, by introducing legislation to strengthen 
the banks' liquidity positions after the bank runs of 1964). Although this policy 
of "positive non-intervention" was downplayed and eventually abandoned after 
1997, Hong Kong has remained a largely free-market economy. 

To consolidate his relations with the government, Q.W. Lee also socialized 
with other senior government officials overseeing the banking industry, such 
as the banking commissioner, the secretary for economic services and the 
secretary for monetary affairs. He frequently hosted them at Bo Ai Tang (the Hall 
of Universal Fraternity) on the top floor of the bank's building, which offered 
a panoramic view of Victoria Harbour and was famous for serving Chinese 
delicacies such as sharks' fins, braised abalone and snake soup. The only person 
Lee was not able to entertain in Bo Ai Tang was Haddon-Cave, who would not 
touch any of these Chinese dishes. Dinner parties in his honour had to be held in 
a Western restaurant and usually served lamp chops or steak along with Scotch 
whisky and brandy. Haddon-Cave, who was tall, erect and serious-looking with 
black-rimmed glasses and greying hair, would often sit back and smoke his pipe 
after dinner. 

158 The Dragon and the Crown 

As Hang Seng developed closer ties with government officials and its impact 
on the Hong Kong economy grew, the colonial government decided to give a 
voice to the bank as the representative of local Chinese financial interests. In 
1968, Governor David Trench appointed Q.W. Lee to the Legislative Council 
(Legco), the colony's legislative body (Until September 1985, none of the seats 
in Legco were elected and all appointments were made by the governor.) At 
the time of Lee's appointment, Legco had twelve "official" members, all top 
government officials, and thirteen "unofficial'' members chosen from the 
business and professional communities. Ten of the "unofficial'' members were 
ethnic Chinese, from various industries and professions, but Q.W. Lee was the 
first and only representative from the Chinese financial sector. At that time 
one of the most prominent Chinese council members was Kan Yuet-keung, a 
respected lawyer whose father Kan Tong-po was a co-founder of another local 
Chinese bank, the Bank of East Asia. Of medium build and always immaculately 
dressed, Kan worked closely with Hang Seng Bank and often visited our offices. 
He accompanied Murray MacLehose to Beijing in 1979 and met Deng Xiaopeng, 
who gave them the message that investors in Hong Kong "should be told to set 
their hearts at ease"; Deng apparently also made it clear that China would re- 
assume sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997. Not long after the meeting, Kan 
resigned his official posts and retired from public service. 

Hang Seng's senior management was extremely pleased with Q.W. Lee's 
appointment. With Chairman Ho's encouragement, the bank became even 
more active in entertaining important government officials, and every year they 
filled the halls of Bo Ai Tang on two occasions: a few days after the governor's 
address in Legco in October, and after the financial secretary's budget speech in 

Although Q.W. Lee had been highly successful in promoting relations with 
the government, he faced an unprecedented dilemma in his new, unaccustomed 
role as a legislator. On the one hand, he wanted to affirm his loyalty to the 
Hong Kong government by supporting its policies; on the other, he felt he 
was responsible to the general public as one of the few representatives of local 
Chinese interests in Legco. As I was his speechwriter, 1 too faced the same 
dilemma. In order to maintain a balance between these two different interests, 
we decided to steer a seemingly neutral path: Lee would focus on economic and 
financial matters, and leave political issues alone. 

At that time, Legco was generally expected to "rubber stamp" any legislation 
that the colonial administration proposed; but twice a year it would hold a 
wide-ranging debate on government policies. The first debate followed the 
governor's address at the opening of the new session of Legco in October, and 
the second was a debate on the proposed budget during the second reading 
of the annual Appropriation Bill in April. My research department would start 

New China 159 

preparing economic and financial data for Q.W. Lees speech more than a month 
before each event, and I myself would be summoned frequently to his office to 
work on the content and wording. 

Q.W. Lee had a bright, spacious office on the third floor of the bank where 
he usually sat at a large blackwood desk in the centre of the room facing the 
door; he could swivel his leather chair around, pull open the embroidered silk 
curtains at his back, and enjoy a full view of Victoria Harbour. Several small, 
high-legged tables along the walls held Lees collection of antiques: porcelain 
and jade vases and bowls from the Ming and Qing dynasties; ivory and bronze 
Buddha statues from India and Thailand; and clocks from Europe and America 
similar to the one that Mother brought with her as part of her dowry. We usually 
worked on his speech around a small conference table on one side of the room, 
but Lee would constantly rush over to his desk to answer telephone calls, give 
instructions in his high-pitched voice or tend to other bank business, while 
at the same time trying to talk or listen to me. When we came across an issue 
that we could not resolve between us, Lee would usually ask Man Kwok Lau 
or Ho Tak Ching to come to his office and join our discussion. Sometimes he 
would telephone Lee Ming Chak, a distant cousin whom he called "Chak Goh" 
(Brother Chak). Lee Ming Chak (also known as Richard Charles or R.C. Lee) 
headed the Hysan group, served as a member of Legco during 1961-66, and 
maintained excellent relations with the PRC. (I learned, much later, that R.C. 
Lee had introduced Q.W. to senior officials in Beijing during the early 1970s, 
and that the two of them were among the first people to hear about Chinas "one 
country, two systems" policy for Hong Kong.) 

Q.W. Lees Legco speeches would undergo many drafts before being 
finalized. First we had to take the views of the colonial government into careful 
consideration because, as Lee would say, "In dealing with the government, 
we must be politically correct." Then we needed to make sure that the speech 
was in line with the thinking of the banks senior management. As a further 
precaution, before finalizing his speech Lee would show a draft to his learned 
friends outside the bank, including noted journalists and university professors. 
After everyone we had to consult had given their comments, Lee and I would 
go over the draft one last time and iron out the final wording. I would then 
translate the speech into Chinese for distribution to the media, with a copy to 
Chairman Ho. 

Q.W Lees term at Legco lasted until 1978, but Murray MacLehose (who 
succeeded Trench as governor in 1971) appointed him to the Executive Council 
(Exco) during the period 1976-78, and again in 1983-88. The role of Exco 
was to advise the governor on major policy decisions. At the start of 1984, the 
members of Exco included six top government officials, Michael Sandberg, the 
chairman of Hongkong Bank, and David Newbigging, the chairman of the British 

160 The Dragon and the Crown 

hong Jardine Matheson. In addition, there were eight local Chinese members, 
including Chung Sze-yuen, who was an industrialist (and at that time the senior 
member of the council), and Lydia Dunn, who was a director of the British hong 
Swire (and who later succeeded Chung as the senior member of Exco). 

Lee's appointment to Exco made it impossible for him to avoid political 
issues, and he soon stepped squarely on a major political landmine. In 1983 
the British and PRC governments had started negotiations for the handover 
of Hong Kong to China in 1997. Although Hong Kong did not have a seat at 
the negotiating table, Lee's appointment was probably an effort by the British 
government to involve the local Chinese business community indirectly in 
issues surrounding the handover. It would not have escaped the government's 
attention that Lee had by then started to develop closer ties with PRC agencies 
and officials. 

With 1997 around the corner, Hang Seng's senior management had little 
choice but to start cultivating their relationships with the PRC. By the early 
1980s, Leung Chik Wai, one of the founders, had died, Ho Tim had vacated his 
general manager seat and became first vice-chairman, and Q.W Lee had been 
promoted to second vice-chairman and general manager. The task therefore fell 
on Lee to develop a closer relationship with the PRC. 

Wang Kuang, the director of Xinhua News Agency in Hong Kong (which 
was the unofficial representative of the PRC government), was the first high- 
ranking PRC official Lee entertained in Bo Ai Tang. On one of the walls of the 
banquet hall hung a much-prized original calligraphy by Dr. Sun Yat-sen with 
two large Chinese characters — Bo Ai (universal fraternity) — which now 
seemed to have assumed even greater significance as 1997 drew closer. Xu Jiatun, 
who succeeded Wang in 1983, also frequented Bo Ai Tang and developed an 
especially good relationship with Lee. One of Xinhua's missions was to develop 
a United Front with Hong Kong's business community, and Xu was one of the 
most successful PRC officials in this area. Unusually open-minded and sociable, 
Xu was very popular among Hong Kong's business elite; but he was also the 
most senior PRC official to defect to the West after the violent suppression of 
student protests at Tiananmen Square in June 1989. 

I again became a target of attention during this round of United Front work. 
In 1982, I received an invitation to attend Xinhua's National Day celebration 
party delivered in person by Wong Man Fong, whose calling card said that he 
was the chief reporter of Xinhua. Wong was, of course, a high-ranking PRC 
official, who was at one time in charge of Taiwan affairs at Xinhua Hong Kong 
and held the position of Deputy Secretary General at the agency when he retired 
in 1994. (My King's College classmate, Tarn Ting Kwong, later told me that 
Wong had reported to his older brother Tarn Kon when he first joined Xinhua 
in the late 1940s.). Wong said that he had heard about me from Lee and that 

New China 161 

Xinhua was interested in the work of my research department. I thanked him 
for the invitation, but did not attend the party. 

After his first visit, Wong often dropped by my office on the pretext of 
gathering economic information; occasionally, he would invite me out to lunch. 
Slight in build, Wong had a round, animated face and an intense look behind his 
black-rimmed glasses, but he always had a big friendly smile and was willing to 
listen as well as speak his mind. His frankness, warmth and apparent openness 
gradually put me at ease about being on the receiving end of his United Front 
mission. We eventually became good friends and were able to exchange views 
frankly about the future of Hong Kong. In his way, Wong was one of the most 
successful United Front officials 1 knew. 

Wong had always been very open about the goals of the United Front. "The 
first thing China has to do is to win over Hong Kong's business elite," he said, 
"as this will ensure Hong Kongs continued stability and prosperity after 1997." 
From his perspective, Wong believed that it was necessary to protect the interests 
of Hong Kongs capitalists so that they would continue to invest in Hong Kong 
after the handover, and that this would be best for Hong Kong. Although I 
understood his logic, I still found the idea ironic since the Communist Party 
was supposed to promote the interests of the workers rather than those of the 

In any case, I found myself increasingly drawn into the growing interaction 
between mainland China and Hong Kong's business sector. Deng Xiaoping's 
Reform and Opening policy had unleashed tremendous interest on the 
Mainland in the intricacies of a market economy and international trade, and 
Hong Kong was the ideal place to learn about them. The colony had developed 
into an international financial centre and was within easy reach of Chinas major 
cities. More importantly, it shared a common language and culture with China, 
making it easier for Mainland officials to communicate and learn new ideas. As 
a result, a steady flow of Mainland delegations and visitors began to descend 
on Hong Kong from the mid-1980s onwards. Q.W Lee frequently received and 
entertained well-known scholars, party and government officials, and leaders 
of trade and economic delegations, especially those introduced by Xinhua. Staff 
from the People's Bank of China (the PRC's central bank) as well as other state 
banks came to Hang Seng frequently as observers and trainees, and many of our 
department heads (including myself) had to brief them on the bank's operations 
and talk to them about international finance. 

Hang Seng Bank also needed to know more about China in order to 
evaluate the feasibility of doing business on the Mainland. In 1980 my research 
department and the Business Promotion Department jointly set up a China 
Trade Group to conduct research on China's economic laws and make contacts 
with PRC-related enterprises in Hong Kong. Later that year, we visited the 

162 The Dragon and the Crown 

Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (SEZ) across the border from Hong Kong, 
which had been established earlier in August as one of the four "open" areas 
allowed to experiment with foreign investments and a more "market-oriented" 
economy. (The other three original SEZs were Zhuhai, near Macao, Shantou, on 
the southeast coast of Guangdong Province, and Xiamen, a port city in Fujian 
Province facing the Taiwan Straits. Shenzhen and Zhuhai were chosen for their 
proximity to Hong Kong and Macao respectively, and Shantou and Xiamen for 
their historical ties to the overseas Chinese diaspora and to Taiwan.) 

When we first visited in 1980, Shenzhen was a relatively quiet town with a 
population of only seventy thousand; low-rise brick houses clustered in the old 
residential areas, and a thin layer of dust covered everything in sight. We were 
greeted by Shenzhens Party Secretary, a middle-aged man who wore a grey Mao 
suit but talked and gestured like someone from Hong Kong. He assured us that 
plans were underway to build a new city with wider roads, expanded sewage 
and electricity systems, and additional telephone lines. "Nothing can stand in 
the way of constructing a new Shenzhen in accordance with Comrade Deng 
Xiaoping's plans," he said enthusiastically. 

To prove his point, he took us on a tour of the construction sites on the 
outskirts of town. We felt quite dizzy at first as our minivan bumped along 
rugged unpaved roads, but we were soon rewarded with the amazing sight of 
hundreds of workers toiling under the sun with picks and shovels, and dozens 
of cranes, bulldozers and steamrollers busy at work. Our scepticism receded 
after our site visit; with Beijing's strong financial backing, it was quite possible 
that this once sleepy town could transform itself into a modern city. 

When we visited Shenzhen again in April 1982, the SEZ had undergone 
an astounding transformation; all major roads had been paved or widened, 
and modern multi-storey buildings had sprung up everywhere. Party cadres 
and government officials showed us a more detailed development plan for the 
SEZ, with areas earmarked for industrial, commercial and residential districts, 
recreation centres, theme parks and container terminals. We also toured a 
number of new factories where hundreds of women workers, recruited from the 
poorer parts of the province, assembled electronic parts for export. 

Despite the SEZs progress, however, our investigations showed that foreign 
and Hong Kong investors still faced a long list of unresolved issues. Many 
investors complained about the lax attitude of the workers, while others could 
not find enough workers with adequate industrial experience to staff factories. 
More importantly, even though the Regulations for Special Economic Zones 
had been in place since 1980, there was still a lack of detailed rules governing 
basic business operations such as custom clearance, business registration, 
employment practices, land use, the availability of foreign exchange, taxation, 
trademarks and patents, and licensing and technology transfer. We discussed 

New China 163 

these issues with the officials we met, who then promised to raise them with the 
relevant authorities. 

Soon after we had submitted a report on our visit to our senior management, 
Chairman Ho decided that the bank should start doing business in China. In 

1983 Hang Seng dissolved its China Trade Group and set up a new China Trade 
Department, and in June 1985 the bank established a representative office in 
Shenzhen to sendee customers doing business in southern China. A second 
representative office was set up in Xiamen in August 1986. 

Hang Seng was now going full steam ahead to develop the China market. My 
department stepped up research on Chinas economic and political development, 
and periodically published our analysis in the Hang Seng Economic Quarterly 
(which we started in 1979 and converted to the Hang Seng Economic Monthly in 

1984 by popular demand). Our reports were well received in both academic and 
commercial circles, and allowed me to make friends and exchange ideas with 
the economists employed by all the leading banks in Hong Kong. To enhance 
the quality of our research work further, the bank retained Leo Goodstadt as an 
advisor. He was a lecturer in economics at the University of Hong Kong, deputy 
chief editor of the Far East Economic Review, and a colleague of mine on the 
governments Statistics Advisory Board since 1976. Goodstadt later headed the 
Central Policy Unit, an administration think tank, under Chris Patten, the last 
governor of Hong Kong. 

In addition to publishing the quarterly, at Q.W. Lee's request I also 
organized bi-weekly economic symposiums to brief all the department heads 
on the latest developments in Hong Kong and China. Lee, or in his absence Man 
Kwok Lau (who had become deputy general manager), chaired the meetings. 
The department heads talked about their business activities and reported any 
intelligence gathered from their customers or other banks. At the top of our 
agenda were the challenges that Hong Kong businessmen would face with the 
handover of sovereignty in 1997, and whether China would continue to be 
politically stable and prosperous. We had no choice but to abandon Chairman 
Ho's earlier dictum, "A businessman should only talk about business, not 
politics," since a different political and economic reality now confronted us. 

Meanwhile, anxiety and tension regarding the handover had started to build 
up as China and Britain jointly announced the start of formal negotiations on 1 
July 1983. The negotiations took twenty-two rounds and lasted until September 
the following year. The fourth round of the talks, held on 22 September 1983, 
came to a deadlock over Britain's insistence on continuing to administer Hong 
Kong after 1997. China reacted strongly and stated categorically that it would 
both assume sovereignty and take over the administration. This political 
confrontation shook the entire community; investors withdrew their capital 
from the Hong Kong markets and converted their Hong Kong Dollars to foreign 

164 The Dragon and the Crown 

currencies, thereby driving down the value of the Hong Kong Dollar which, 
until then, had floated freely. 

The publics confidence plummeted and queues started to form in stores 
and supermarkets to buy up canned goods, dried foods, household items and 
anything that had to be imported, since the depreciation of the Hong Kong Dollar 
was expected to drive up the prices of foreign goods. Some shops even refused 
to take Hong Kong Dollars and accepted only US Dollars. A mad scramble for 
US Dollars hit all the banks from 22 to 24 September and as the biggest dealer 
in foreign currency banknotes, Hang Seng was besieged by a horde of customers 
(including small merchants, office workers and housewives) all desperate to 
convert their savings into US Dollars. For those of us who had been through the 
bank run of 1965 it was deja vu, albeit on a smaller scale. Q.W. Lee was away 
from the colony on a business trip at that time, leaving Man Kwok Lau to hold 
the fort. To discourage a repeat of 1965, Man gave orders to limit the sale of US 
Dollar notes to one hundred dollars per customer; this measure worked and the 
queues soon dissipated. 

"That was one of the hardest decisions 1 ever had to make in my forty 
years of banking," Man said to me long after we had both retired. He still had a 
distant, worried look as he recalled those three traumatic days. 

By Saturday, 24 September 1983 the Hong Kong Dollar had lost half its value, 
the exchange rate having plummeted from around HKS4.80 to the US Dollar in 
August to an all-time low of HKS9.60. That afternoon, the government held 
an urgent meeting with leading bankers, financial gurus and monetary experts 
to try to devise a scheme to stabilize the Hong Kong currency. They decided 
to adopt the suggestion of John Greenwood, the chief economist of GT Fund 
Management Group, and set up a "linked rate" system. Under this scheme, the 
government would fix the exchange rate at which it would undertake to buy or 
sell Hong Kong Dollar banknotes. The beauty of the scheme lay in its simplicity; 
as long as the government was willing and able to buy and sell banknotes at 
the stated rate, all other Hong Kong Dollar transactions would follow since 
no buyer or seller would accept a rate that was significantly different. The big 
question was to agree the appropriate rate. The group of experts thought that 
the rate should be pegged slightly above the recent market rate in order to 
recoup some of the currency's speculative losses, but not so high as to provoke 
a rush to convert and thus push up interest rates. On 17 October 1983 the 
government launched the linked exchange rate system at HK$7.80 to the US 
Dollar and, once the peg was in place, it held as time passed by. 

The linked exchange rate system successfully shielded the Hong Kong Dollar 
from the effects of the political confrontation between China and Britain during 
this period and contributed to the colony's continued economic growth in the 
run-up to 1997. Both the colonial and the post-handover Special Administrative 

New China 165 

Region (SAR) governments have held steadfastly to the pegged rate, despite 
some of its drawbacks, in order to avoid destabilizing financial markets and the 

With the negotiations over Hong Kong's future at an impasse, many 
community leaders became worried and decided to voice their views in order 
to help move the discussions forward. On 23 June 1984, three key Chinese 
members of the Executive Council — Chung Sze-yuen, Lydia Dunn and Q.W. 
Lee — met Deng Xiaoping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing with the 
hope that, as "unofficial" members of Exco and Legco (Umelco), they could 
convey the views and interests of the people of Hong Kong. 

The meeting attracted much publicity and the initial moments were 
broadcast over television in Hong Kong. Dispensing with pleasantries, Deng 
gave the three a lecture in front of the press and immediately declared that, as 
far as he was concerned, they were there as private individuals and not in any 
representative role. "We have heard a lot of different opinions," he said, "but we 
do not recognize that these represent the interests of all Hong Kong people". 
He also emphasized that China would resolve the question of Hong Kong with 
Britain and would not be affected by any "external influences". 

It was later reported that the three were not given the opportunity to say 
much during the ensuing closed-door meeting, and Deng ended by giving them 
another lecture: 

"What you have said can be reduced into one single sentence: you have 
no trust in the policies adopted by the People's Republic of China and 
the government here ... If there is no trust, there is little we can say ... 
Frankly, you do not believe the Chinese are capable of ruling Hong 
Kong ... You are not representing the Hong Kong people. You are only 
representing yourselves." (Cottrell, The End ojHong Kong, p. 159) 

The headline in the South ChinaMorningPost the next day was: "Humiliation! 
Deng turns on Umelco three". That was probably the most embarrassing moment 
of Q.W Lee's entire public career. 

The End of an Era 

For his services, the British government awarded Q.W. Lee the honours of 
Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) when he was 
appointed to the Legislative Council, and Commander of the Most Excellent 
Order of the British Empire (CBE) when he was appointed to the Executive 
Council. In 1987, Queen Elizabeth II conferred a knighthood upon him. 

I myself received the award of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the 
British Empire (MBE) in 1985, a year after my retirement. I had suffered a heart 

166 The Dragon and the Crown 

attack in 1983, decided to retire in 1984 after twenty-two years of service at 
Hang Seng Bank, and emigrated with my family to Canada. On 25 June 1985, 
I received a telephone call from the British Consulate General at my house in 
Toronto informing me that I had been awarded the MBE because of my services 
to the Hong Kong government as a member of the Statistics Advisory Board. 
The same day I received a letter from the Consul General relaying a telegram 
message from Hong Kong Governor Sir Edward Youde which said: "Please 
accept my warm congratulations on the award to you of the MBE. I wish you 
well in your retirement." 

1 arrived in Hong Kong in time for the investiture ceremony at Government 
House on the afternoon of 15 October 1985. Built on the mid-levels of 
Victoria Peak overlooking the harbour, Government House is a two-storey 
white building with tiled roofs and a tower. Home to twenty-five Hong Kong 
governors and known for the beauty of the azaleas in its gardens, the house 
also served as the governors office and a venue for special ceremonies. The 
gardens are usually opened to the public in April each year, when the red, 
purple and white azaleas are in full bloom. Tung Chee Hwa, who became 
chief executive of the SAR government after the handover in 1997, chose not 
to reside on the premises in order to signal a clean break with Hong Kong's 
colonial past. However, Donald Tsang, the former colonial government official 
who succeeded Tung as chief executive in 2005, decided to take up residence 
in Government House again. 

When I entered, the main hall of the House was simple but elegant, with 
square white pillars, cream-coloured walls and chandeliers hanging from a high 
ceiling. The Union Jack and the British Hong Kong flag hung in front, facing the 
dignitaries and guests who filled the seats in the hall. Attending the ceremony 
as my guests were Wing Kin, Aunt Rose, and Man Kwong's two children, Cheuk 
and Nicole, who were both living in Hong Kong at that time. I sat in the front 
row together with some thirty other award recipients; and we all stood up as 
"God Save the Queen" was played. Sir Edward Youde, who had a moderate 
build, grey balding hair and a kindly round face, wore a starched white uniform 
with all the trappings of a colonial governor: a high collar, gold buttons and 
epaulettes, and a blue-and-red sash across the front. 1 walked up to him when 
my iurn came and he pinned the medal to my lapel with a soft smile and words 
of congratulation. The metal cross of the medal was capped by the Royal Crown 
and hung from a red ribbon with gold trimming: inscribed around the centre of 
the cross were the words: "For God and the Empire". I was suddenly overcome 
by a surge of mixed emotions. I had enjoyed a productive and fulfilling life in 
the colony and was gratified by this public recognition of my services, but I also 
recalled how deeply I resented the British Empires exploits in China and how 
its "gunboat policy" had forced open China's ports for British merchants. 

New China 167 

Sir Edward himself had a connection to this "gunboat policy". As a young 
Third Secretary of the British Embassy in Nanjing in 1949, he had learned about 
the plans of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) to blockade the mouth of the 
Yangtze River and prevent the escape of HMS Amethyst, a British frigate which 
had been patrolling the river between Shanghai and Nanjing. The PLA had 
fired at the Amethyst from the north bank but had succeeded only in damaging 
the ship. Youde passed the information to the Amethyst, and the ship slipped 
through the blockade at night on 31 July and sailed safely to Hong Kong. A 
few days later, as I rode across Victoria Harbour on the Star Ferry, 1 spotted the 
Amethyst in the navy dockyards with a big hole in its hull. 

The "Amethyst affair" marked the end of British "gunboat policy". Youde 
received the MBE from King George VI in 1949 for his vigilance, and was 
promoted rapidly within the Foreign Office. He was the British Ambassador 
to China in the early 1970s and became Hong Kong's 26th Governor in 1982. 
As governor, Sir Edward was actively involved in the Sino-British negotiations 
over Hong Kong, but died unexpectedly in Beijing in 1986 during one of the 
negotiation sessions. 

Caught in the tug of war between China and Britain over the past one and a 
half centuries, Hong Kong had seen its fortunes wax and wane but, overall, the 
colony had prospered far beyond all initial expectations for the "barren rock". 
Mirroring Hong Kong's fortunes, the Hang Seng Index saw major fluctuations 
between 1969 and 1997 but maintained an upward trend overall; the index, 
which had started at 158 points on 24 November 1969, closed at a historic high 
of 15,196 points on 30 June 1997, the last day of British rule over Hong Kong. 
My career had been closely tied to the rise in Hong Kong's fortunes and, more 
specifically, to the success of the Hang Seng Index which led to my involvement 
in the compilation of the Hang Seng Consumer Price Index and, in turn, to my 
appointment to the government's Statistical Advisory Board. Without all this, 
I would not have stood in Government House and received my MBE from Sir 

I had spent the best part of my productive life in Hang Seng Bank, which 
celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1983, the year before I retired. Ho Sin Hang 
officially announced his retirement during the celebration ceremony, but 
remained active in many of the bank's functions as its honorary chairman. Q.W. 
Lee became Hang Sengs chairman and chief executive officer; Ho Tim, who had 
also retired, became a non-executive director; and Leung Kau Kui (the only 
other remaining patriarch) continued to be active as a Hang Seng director as 
well as the head of Dah Chong Hong, the bank's trading affiliate. 

Ho Sin Hang, Leung Kau Kui, Ho Tim and Q.W. Lee had been known as 
the "Four Patriarchs of Hang Seng" for some time, not just because of their 
seniority or the size of their shareholdings, but also because of their influence 

168 The Dragon and the Crown 

over the bank for more than half a century. Ho Sin Hang, who held the largest 
number of shares, was of course the patriarch of patriarchs. In 1994, the four 
patriarchs contributed HK$100 million each to set up the "Ho Leung Ho Lee 
Foundation" to promote the development of science and technology in China. 
Ho Sin Hang was then ninety-four years old, and Leung, Ho Tim and Lee were 
ninety-one, eighty-four and seventy-six respectively. They probably thought it 
was time to return to their roots and make a parting contribution to China's 
development. The foundation would give prizes each year to Chinese scientists 
with outstanding achievements in ten science and technology fields, including: 
physics, chemistry, astronomy, meteorology, geology, biology, physiology and 
medicine. Dr. Yang Chen Ning, the China-born American physicist and 1957 
Nobel Prize winner, would be on the selection committee for the awards. On 
13 May 1994, the day before the inauguration of the foundation, Vice Premier 
Zhu Rongji received the four patriarchs and their families at the Great Hall of 
the People in Beijing; it was the crowning moment for four highly successful 
business careers. 

Leung Kau Kui died in November that year. Ho Sing Hang died on 4 
December 1997 at the age of ninety-seven, a few weeks before he was due to 
retire completely As 1 had stopped in Hong Kong on a visit to the Mainland at 
that time, I was able to attend his funeral. The service was attended by many 
Hong Kong and mainland dignitaries, and Chinese Premier Li Peng, Vice 
Premier Zhu Rongji and Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa all 
sent wreaths. Q.W. Lee, Chairman Ho's protege, delivered the eulogy. 1 met 
many former colleagues from Hang Seng Bank who had also come to pay their 
respects; their hair had turned as grey as mine, and we were all saddened by the 
loss of our great teacher. Chairman Ho had been a constant source of inspiration 
for me throughout my career at the bank. 

The two remaining patriarchs, Ho Tim and Q.W. Lee, stayed involved with 
Hang Seng Bank for a few more years, but in less active roles. Ho Tim remained 
a non-executive director until 2004 and died at the end of the year. Q.W. Lee 
retired from the post of chief executive and became non-executive chairman in 
1996. Two years later, David Eldon of Hongkong Bank replaced Lee as chairman, 
and Vincent Cheng, also from Hongkong Bank, became vice-chairman and chief 
executive. When Q.W. Lee retired completely from the board in April 2004, the 
transition at the top was complete and the era of the patriarchs had come to an 

Under the leadership of Chairman Ho and the patriarchs over a period of 
more than sixty years, Hang Seng Bank had grown from a small yinhao on Wing 
Lok Street to an international financial institution of world standing. On 31 
December 2006 it boasted consolidated assets of HKS669 billion and net profits 
of HK$12 billion for the year, ranking it among the top banks in Hong Kong. 

Home and Country 

A Question of Nationality 

I had considered the possibility of emigration during various periods in my life: 
first during the 1950s when political campaigns ravaged the Mainland, and later 
in 1967 when demonstrations turned violent in Hong Kong. On both occasions 
I had chosen to remain in Hong Kong, and 1 was able to advance my career as 
the economy rebounded and prospered. 

When Sino-British negotiations started in 1983, 1 again thought about 
emigrating. Although I wanted to stay in Hong Kong to witness its return to 
Chinese sovereignty in 1997 — which had been the dream of my youth — 1 
felt uneasy about the political situation in China. My concerns were echoed 
in a mainland Chinese movie, Ku Lian (Unrequited Love), which was shown 
in Hong Kong in the early 1980s. Based on a screenplay by mainland poet and 
writer Bai Hua, the film told the story of an artist who had returned to China 
out of patriotism after the war, but who later suffered political persecution and 
eventually died from cold and hunger during the Cultural Revolution. Towards 
the end of the film his daughter decided to leave China, and when her relatives 
begged her to stay she asked them a question they could not answer: "You love 
your country, but does your country love you?" 

The movie was quickly banned on the Mainland and Bai Hua was forced 
to undergo severe "criticism and self-criticism", particularly regarding the 
daughter's question. When the film was shown in Hong Kong, the story 
resonated widely within the audience, especially among patriotic intellectuals. 
1 asked myself the same question as I deliberated my future. I thought of my 
brothers who had gone to the Mainland out of patriotism, and of their wasted 
youth and betrayed loyalty. Did their country love them? 

As I looked back on political developments in China during the past 
century, 1 became quite pessimistic about the prospects for individual rights 
and democracy in the country. China had been under authoritarian rule for over 

1 70 The Dragon and the Crown 

two thousand years; the only exceptions were the few hundred years during 
the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States Periods (770-221 bc) when the 
Middle Kingdom was split into many rival feudal states and "a hundred flowers 
blossomed and a hundred schools of thought contended". After the Qing 
dynasty was overthrown in 1911, there was hope of establishing a democratic 
government in China, but this was disrupted by the Japanese invasion. In 1949, 
the Chinese Communist Party took power and proclaimed that the Chinese 
people had finally stood on their feet, but the record of the CCP showed 
that authoritarian rule had returned and the party leadership had become 
the traditional despot which demanded the loyalty of its people. Although 
my family values were chung and hao — loyalty and filial piety — I was not 
prepared to give my loyalty to an authoritarian regime. Moreover, I had little 
faith that within my lifetime, and perhaps even my children's lifetime, China 
could become a modern democratic nation respecting the rights and freedom 
of its citizens. After much deliberation, I finally made up my mind to emigrate 
with my family. 

This was a move that I would not have contemplated during my youth. I 
grew up in a family which was steeped in Chinese culture and tradition, and 
we had always considered ourselves Chinese rather than British even though 
we had lived in Hong Kong for three generations. Many of my friends and 
relatives considered the cession of Hong Kong to Britain after the Opium War 
a humiliation, and looked forward to the realization of Dr. Sun Yat-sens "Three 
Principles of the People" — nationalism, democracy and people's livelihood 
— when China could be strong and prosperous again. 

Most Chinese in Hong Kong shared such patriotic sentiments towards 
China both before and during the war, although everyone born in the colony 
was entitled to a Hong Kong birth certificate and British passport. During World 
War I, many local Chinese did not even register the births of their children with 
the colonial government, out of fear that their children might be drafted into the 
British armed forces when they grew up. Until the late 1940s, those who had to 
travel abroad usually applied for a Republic of China passport and, in general, 
only two types of people took up British nationality: those who wanted to go to 
Britain for their professional education and training, for example in medicine, 
law and engineering; and those who benefited from working for or with the 
British, such as the comprador class. 

After the Chinese Communist Party took power in 1949, however, British 
nationality suddenly became much in demand by Hong Kong Chinese who did 
not want to live under communist rule and looked for a safety hatch in case 
China took back the colony. Those who had not registered their births with 
the Hong Kong government rushed to obtain birth certificates (under oath) in 
order to secure British passports, while those who were not born in Hong Kong 

Home and Country 1 71 

sought naturalization by asking dignitaries and Justices of the Peace to be their 
guarantors. However, the British amended their Nationality Act in 1962 and 
denied all their colonial subjects the automatic right of abode in Britain. Hong 
Kong residents were upset by this act (which we considered discrimination), 
but many, myself included, still applied for British passports in the belief that 
being "second class citizens" of Britain might be preferable to being "first class 
citizens" of the Peoples Republic, especially in view of the growing hardships 
and turmoil on the Mainland. 

The political concerns of the Hong Kong people escalated in 1967 as the 
violence of the Cultural Revolution spread to the colony Many became alarmed 
and wanted to emigrate, in which case having a British passport without the right 
of abode was no longer sufficient. Those who could afford it sold their assets 
and emigrated to countries such as the US, Canada and Australia; I myself had 
considered emigrating to Canada at that time but eventually decided against it. 

Many of those who emigrated in 1967 returned to Hong Kong later when 
the economy recovered and prospered during the 1970s, but this period of calm 
and confidence did not last long. The start of the Sino-British negotiations over 
the future of Hong Kong in 1983 triggered yet another wave of emigration. Many 
families who possessed the means or the appropriate professional qualifications 
packed up and emigrated, again principally for the US, Canada and Australia. 
Anticipating this new wave of emigration, the British government amended 
its Nationality Act once again in 1981, specifying that people who were born 
or naturalized in Hong Kong were now British Dependent Territory Citizens 
(BDTC) and had no right of abode in Britain. Later, as the Sino-British talks 
progressed, the British government made a conciliatory gesture and decreed that 
Hong Kong residents born in the colony before 1 July 1997 would be allowed 
to use a new type of British passport known as the British National (Overseas) 
(BNO) passport; but this right would not be transmissible to children born after 
1 July 1997. In point of fact, BDTC and BNO passports were travel documents 
only, with no implication of British citizenship. Hong Kong people thus had 
no real choice but either to become a Chinese citizen after the handover or to 
emigrate, so I then decided to do the latter. 

Leaving Hang Seng 

My decision to emigrate was made easier by my retirement from Hang Seng Bank 
at the end of 1983. I suffered a heart attack in November 1983 and decided to 
retire at the age of fifty-nine, one year before the banks official retirement age. 

I was alerted to the risk of overwork in early 1983 when my elder brother 
Man Kwong, who was then the managing director of Dah Chong Hong in Japan, 
suffered a heart attack and went to Vancouver, Canada for bypass surgery. A 

J 72 The Dragon and the Crown 

dedicated and successful executive, Man Kwong worked long hours and 
frequently entertained both Japanese clients and mainland Chinese officials who 
were keen to start business relations with Japan. His guests included Chinese 
Minister of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Madame Chen Muhua, who 
later reciprocated by inviting Man Kwong and Amy to attend the 1 October 
National Day parade in Tiananmen Square (in another United Front effort). The 
heavy work pressure and frequent business entertainment undoubtedly took 
their toll on Man Kwong's health. 

Alarmed by Man Kwong's condition, I became more conscientious in taking 
early morning walks near my apartment on Arbuthnot Road before going to 
work. After finishing my walk one clear November morning, I felt a sharp 
pain in my chest and was reminded of Man Kwong's condition. 1 rushed to the 
hospital with Wing Kin's help and was treated immediately by a cardiologist 
and put on medication. Fortunately, 1 did not require surgery. As 1 lay on my 
hospital bed, 1 began to wonder whether it was worthwhile continuing to work 
under the daily pressures I faced at the bank. Man Kwok Lau was quite right 
when he said that the more demands Q.W. Lee made on me, the better my career 
prospects would be. My career did advance steadily, but it now became clear 
that the heavy workload had taken its toll on my health. 

Many of my close friends and relatives came to visit me at the hospital and 
they agreed that 1 should slow down and take care of my health. Man Kwok 
Lau was especially sympathetic, since he too had been working under heavy 
pressure and his health had suffered as a consequence. Shortly after he visited 
me at the hospital, Man announced that he would retire and emigrate to Canada. 
The news caught everyone by surprise since Man's career at Hang Seng had been 
highly successful; he was then deputy general manager under Q.W. Lee and a 
member of the board. Moreover, he had been appointed a Justice of the Peace 
by the Hong Kong government and was only the third person within the bank 
(after Q.W. Lee and Ho Tim) to enjoy that honour. Although Man had already 
reached the official retirement age of sixty, he could easily have continued to 
work in Hang Seng as a director or advisor, but 1 suspected that he must have 
become weary of the work pressures within the bank. 

Although Hang Seng tried to operate as a big family, as in other large 
corporations there was still heavy pressure to perform and I certainly felt 
the strains of my workload and the effects of the demands made by senior 
management. In my experience, in order to advance within the bank one 
needed to have not only professional knowledge, the ability to work hard, solid 
business connections and good relations with senior management, but also a 
willingness to sacrifice family time and, at times, even one's personal dignity. 
Realizing now that all this work pressure had put my health at risk, I decided to 
follow Man's example and retire. 

Home and Country 1 73 

When I handed in my resignation at the end of 1983, Hang Seng's patriarchs 
were both surprised and reluctant to see me leave. Chairman Ho, Ho Tim, Leung 
Kau Kui and the other old-time Hang Seng bankers who had known Gung Gung 
Tang Chi Ngong, Uncle Wai Chow and Father back in the days of the yinhao 
saw me more as a "nephew" than as a/ofei (an ordinary staff). Nevertheless, 
they respected my decision and wished me a happy retirement. Having resigned 
from Hang Seng, it then became quite easy for me to emigrate and leave Hong 

Farewell to Hong Kong 

When I considered possible destinations for emigration, Canada was a natural 
choice since my daughters Yvonne and Elaine had already left Hong Kong 
to attend their last two years of secondary school in Ottawa and Toronto 
respectively, and they would enjoy lower university tuition fees in Canada if we 
became residents. Canada also held many other attractions for me, including 
the wide open spaces, natural resources, a good social security and national 
health system, and a record of welcoming immigrants. Moreover, as members of 
the British Commonwealth, Canada and Hong Kong share a common heritage 
in British-based systems and institutions and the use of English as an official 
language, which would make our adjustment easier. Finally, from a political 
perspective, Canada embodied the values for which 1 had been searching and 
had incorporated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in its constitution in 
1982, thereby guaranteeing its citizens a wide range of constitutional rights and 
personal freedoms. 

Having made up my mind, I submitted an application for myself and my 
family and, within a few months, we were asked to attend an interview at the 
Canadian Commission in Hong Kong. Yvonne and Elaine flew back to Hong 
Kong for the interview, which went smoothly, and we obtained our immigrant 
visas in June 1984. 

When 1 told my friends and relatives about my plan to emigrate, their 
reactions were mixed; some were happy for us, but others worried that we would 
find it hard to adjust to a foreign country. Many of my older relatives believed 
in the traditional Chinese saying: "Once a person leaves his village, he will be 
looked down upon". Those who identified with New China, such as Chu Hark 
Keung and Tarn Ting Kwong, my former classmates at Kings College, and Kung 
Yulong, who accompanied me to visit the Mainland in 1977, were disappointed 
that 1 would forsake my motherland. They had hoped that I would play an 
active role after 1997 and tried to convince me to stay and serve China with 
my experience and qualifications. 1 thanked them for their good intentions, but 
tried to make them understand my thinking. "It is not that I love Hong Kong 

1 74 The Dragon and the Crown 

and China less, but I value personal freedom and democracy more," 1 told them. 
Unable to convince me to stay, they wished me luck in my adopted country. 
Unlike some of the more extreme patriots, they did not consider me a "coward" 
or a "deserter"; their sympathy and good wishes touched my heart. 

The hardest part of leaving Hong Kong was saying goodbye to Mother. 
Since returning to Hong Kong from Singapore in 1958, Mother had lived with 
my family and I for more than twenty years: eight at Ying Fai Terrace and fifteen 
at Arbuthnot Road. During this time, Mother's relationship with Wing Kin had 
become increasingly stressed, which was not uncommon between mothers and 
their daughters-in-law in many traditional Chinese families. Mother had grown 
up in a large, traditional family where daughters-in-law had to be respectful 
towards their elders and perform many household tasks; she herself had been 
an obedient daughter-in-law in the Kwan family, working diligently in the house 
and serving Grandmothers every need. In turn, Mother expected the same from 
her own daughters-in-law, not realizing that times had changed. 

In order to minimize the conflicts between Mother and Wing Kin, Man 
Kwong helped me to persuade Mother to move to an apartment that he had 
bought on Dragon Terrace in Causeway Bay. Mother finally agreed to move there 
in 1982 after Aunt Rose and other relatives promised to visit her frequently 
to keep her company. Aunt Rose, who had closed down her businesses after 
Uncle Leung passed away in the early 1950s, had moved to Sha Tin in the New 
Territories to live with her adopted granddaughter. 

When we left Hong Kong in September 1984, Mother had turned eighty- 
four and looked very frail. When Wing Kin and I took Yvonne and Elaine to say 
goodbye to her, she embraced them tightly and the three of them started to cry. 
Wing Kin and I felt so guilty that we could hardly utter a word to comfort her; 
we ourselves were in tears when we gave her one last goodbye hug. That was the 
last time we all saw Mother. 

Starting a New Life 

We boarded a Canadian Pacific flight for Toronto on 6 September 1984, three 
months after we received our immigrant visas. Looking through the cabin 
window as our plane circled over Toronto's Pearson Airport, I was struck by the 
sharp contrast between the city and Hong Kong. While Hong Kong Island was 
packed with high-rise office and residential buildings, Toronto was completely 
flat except for a small cluster of skyscrapers and the landmark CN Tower near 
the waterfront on Lake Ontario. We found Toronto refreshingly spacious and 
relaxing after the noise and congestion in Hong Kong. 

We were greeted at the airport by John Ho, who had been my comrade as a 
wartime interpreter, a colleague at Dodwell Motors and best man at my wedding. 

Home and Country 1 75 

Having moved to Toronto ten years earlier with his wife and three children, 
John was exactly the person we needed to help us settle down. Although he 
and his family lived in Etobicoke (at the western end of Toronto) in order to be 
close to his office, John suggested that we settle in Scarborough (at the eastern 
end of town) where there were more Hong Kong immigrants. With a population 
of nearly five hundred thousand and growing, Scarborough was thriving with 
the arrival of new immigrants and had become a "Little Hong Kong" where 
residents could speak Cantonese in most supermarkets, shopping malls, banks 
and restaurants, and even in the clinics of doctors and dentists. 

The convenience of living in Scarborough appealed to Wing Kin, but 
Yvonne and Elaine objected strongly to the idea. "Since we have decided to 
live in Canada, we should participate fully in the lifestyle here," they said. "We 
should try to speak English, eat Western food and appreciate Canadian culture. 
Of course, you are retired, and you are happy as long as you have enough savings 
to pay for daily expenses, take the occasional tour, and go back once in a while 
to Hong Kong to see friends and relatives. We are different; we are in Canada 
to pursue our education and careers. We'll have no future here if we alienate 
ourselves from mainstream Canadian society. Living here in Hong Kong style 
simply will not work for us." 

I understood my daughters' views very well; 1 would have felt the same if 1 
were their age. However, 1 needed to take care of Wing Kin's wishes in order to 
make her feel comfortable in the new environment. In the end, we decided to 
settle in Scarborough and moved into an apartment near a large shopping mall. 
Soon after we had settled in, John moved his family into the neighbourhood as 

My daughters' wishes were granted several years later. Yvonne got married 
in 1990 and moved to a house in Mississauga to the west of Toronto. Elaine 
moved first to an apartment in North York in uptown Toronto and later, after she 
got married, to a house in Vaughan in the northern part of the city. They have 
both developed their own careers and circles of friends, and their lifestyles have 
become increasingly Canadian. Wing Kin and I, on the other hand, continue to 
live in an apartment in Scarborough and our lifestyle has remained largely as it 
had been in Hong Kong. 

We still associate primarily with friends who were originally from Hong 
Kong. New immigrants generally prefer to stay together as a group, and we 
are no exception. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Chinese immigrants 
to Canada usually formed networks around hometown or clan associations, 
mixing with people from the same county or village who spoke the same dialect 
and shared the same customs and values. New immigrants from Hong Kong 
who settled in Scarborough in the 1980s had a similar tendency to stay together, 
but they used different networks such as professional societies, chambers of 

J 76 The Dragon and the Crown 

commerce, school and company alumni associations and, often, church 

Former Hang Seng staff who had immigrated to Toronto had formed a 
Hang Seng Friendship Association (HSFA) to keep in touch with each other and 
with current employees of the bank. The founding members were Man Kwok 
Lau, Wong Cho Sum and Ho Biu, who held the positions of deputy general 
manager, assistant general manager and senior manager respectively at the time 
of their retirement. I was invited to join the association's board of directors, but 
I decided to become just an ordinary member since I had already attended too 
many meetings while working for Hang Seng. With the support of the bank, 
the HSFA sponsored many social activities for its members and their families, 
including picnics, Christmas parties, Chinese New Year banquets and out-of- 
town excursions. The association also continued to maintain a close relationship 
with the bank; its members, myself included, regularly received the Hang Seng 
Economic Monthly and Hang Seng Perspective, a newsletter on the bank's current 

Of the three co-founders of HSFA, Man Kwok Lau was the only one who 
stayed on in Toronto. Wong Cho Sum could not tolerate the winter cold and 
returned to Hong Kong in the late 1980s; he passed away not long afterward. Ho 
Biu, who was relatively young, found life in Canada too quiet and returned to 
Hong Kong as soon as he obtained his Canadian passport. Man chose to remain 
in Canada; a devoted Christian, he often said: "God would guide me where 
I should go." He continued to chair the association and many younger Hang 
Seng alumni looked up to him as a leader. Man had never been keen to involve 
the HSFA in any political activity or community service, perhaps because he 
was tired of the political issues surrounding Hong Kong and the Mainland 
and wanted to stay away from politics in Canada. Although I respected Man, I 
disagreed with him on this matter and felt that we should be more involved in 
mainstream Canadian society. 

Aside from the HSFA, I also interacted with two other groups of Hong Kong 
immigrants: my former King's College schoolmates and my wartime interpreter 
comrades. Compared to the HSFA, these two groups were more loosely organized 
and met only occasionally, but our gatherings were always warm and lively. We 
usually met in a tea house, restaurant or someone's home, where we would play 
mahjong, discuss current events (especially news from Hong Kong and China), 
or talk about our school days or wartime adventures. Sometimes we joked that 
we were "White Chinese", akin to the thousands of "White Russians" who had 
left their homeland and fled to northeastern China and Shanghai at the turn of 
the twentieth century to escape communism. 

I had a wonderful time participating in the activities of HSFA and getting 
together with my former schoolmates and interpreter comrades. As time went 

Home and Country 1 77 

by, however, participation at these gatherings started to drop as some of my 
friends went back to Hong Kong when the political uncertainly surrounding 
the handover dissipated, and others even went to live on the Mainland as living 
conditions there improved. Still others entered nursing homes in Toronto or 
died. It makes me sad and uneasy that I am seeing my friends less and less 

Becoming Canadian 

Many of my retired friends prefer to lead a quiet life and keep to themselves, 
subscribing to the traditional Chinese saying: "Shovel the snow in front of your 
own doorstep, and disregard the frost on the roof of your neighbours' house." 
Out of habit, some immigrants from Hong Kong even refer to the Caucasian 
people around them as "foreigners"; 1 find this highly ironic, even xenophobic, 
since the reality is the other way around. 

Unlike many of my friends, I am always looking for ways to participate 
more fully in Canadian life rather than confining myself to such stereotypical 
immigrant activities as playing mahjong and visiting Chinese supermarkets. 
During long weekends or holidays, Wing Kin and 1 will often visit other provinces 
or cross the border to the United States, or even accompany our daughters to ski 
resorts although we do not ski. If I were younger and stronger, I would want to 
participate in such outdoor activities as skiing, skating, camping and fishing, in 
order to fully enjoy the Canadian way of life. 

We finally acquired our Canadian citizenship in 1987, three years after we 
landed. My family and I attended an official ceremony, together with nearly a 
hundred other new citizens, to pledge our allegiance before a citizenship judge 
and sing the Canadian national anthem. I noted with a deep sense of irony that 
we were pledging allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II, who is Canada's queen and 
head of state in addition to being queen of the United Kingdom and head of 
the Commonwealth. When we all sang the national anthem, "O Canada", at 
the end of the ceremony, I joined in with a heavy heart and thought about the 
other anthems that I had sung in the past: "The Three Principles of the People" 
(national anthem of the Republic of China) in primary school; "God save the 
King" (national anthem of the United Kingdom) at King's College; and "March 
of the Volunteers" (national anthem of the People's Republic of China) after 1 
October 1949 when many people in Hong Kong had such high hopes for New 

I found a whole new dimension to my life in Canada after becoming a 
citizen. For the first time, I could elect officials to all levels of government — from 
the city council of Scarborough to the parliament in Ottawa — and participate 
actively in the country's political process. I felt a twinge of excitement when 1 

1 78 The Dragon and the Crown 

mailed in my first ballot, which was for our neighbourhood representative on the 
Scarborough city council; it reminded me clearly why I wanted to immigrate. 

I realized, however, that 1 should not take my right to vote for granted, 
and that the Chinese could enjoy immigration and citizenship rights in Canada 
only after decades of discrimination and political struggles. Canada's early 
immigration laws were highly racist and exclusionary, and listed the different 
peoples and races who could be admitted into the country in descending order 
of priority, and subject to economic needs. At the top of the list were the British 
and white Americans, followed by northern Europeans, central Europeans, 
southern and eastern Europeans, Jews and, finally, Chinese and blacks. 

Early Chinese immigrants to North America were mainly poor peasants 
and workers from the Sze Yup region (comprising the four counties of Toishan, 
Sunwui, Hoiping and Yanping) in Guangdong Province, who had to leave their 
villages when the rural economy collapsed in the last decades of the Qing 
dynasty Many of them departed for North America from Hong Kong, where the 
last glimpse of China they would see from their steamer was Victoria Harbour. 
The Sze Yup labourers were prepared to go wherever there was work, even 
under conditions of racial discrimination and extreme hardship. One of their 
earliest destinations was the Sacramento River in California where gold was 
first discovered in 1848; thereafter, the United States was known as gumshan, 
or Gold Mountain. In 1858, gold was discovered in the Fraser River Valley in 
what is now British Columbia, which drew the first wave of Chinese labourers 
to Canada. They later found work in other areas as well, such as lumber and 

The second wave of Chinese immigration into Canada occurred during 
1881-85 when more than fifteen thousand Chinese workers were hired for the 
construction of the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railroad. Here again, 
Chinese labourers were sought after for their agility, endurance and willingness 
to accept low wages, which were often half the wages of other workers. Many 
Chinese workers were assigned to the dangerous task of dynamiting the path 
of the track through the mountains, and it was said that one Chinese worker 
died for every mile of railroad laid. When construction of the Canadian Pacific 
Railroad officially ended, on 7 November 1885, and Chinese workers were no 
longer needed, the Canadian government immediately imposed a $50 "head 
tax" on future Chinese immigrants in order to discourage them from coming 
to Canada. This amount was increased to $100 in 1900 and $500 in 1903; the 
Chinese were the only immigrants in Canada who had to pay a head tax. 

When the Chinese continued to come to Canada despite the head tax, the 
Canadian Parliament passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923, excluding all 
Chinese except for merchants and diplomats from entering Canada, and thus 
shattering many dreams of family reunion. The act also denied the Chinese any 

Home and Countiy 1 79 

rights to Canadian citizenship and barred them from joining the army. It was 
only at the British governments request that ethnic Chinese were enlisted in 
the Canadian army in 1944 and sent to the Asian war front. Impressed by the 
loyalty of Chinese immigrants during the war, the Canadian government finally 
repealed the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act in 1947 and restored immigration 
and citizenship rights to the Chinese. 

Taking Part in a Democracy 

After the war, Hong Kong replaced Sze Yup as the main source of Chinese 
immigrants in Canada, but although the new immigrants from Hong Kong were 
generally better off than previous generations of Chinese immigrants, they too 
had to deal with racial discrimination and defend their democratic rights. 

The arrival of Hong Kong immigrants peaked in the mid-1980s when it 
became clear that the British would hand Hong Kong over to China in 1997 
(the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed in 1984). The marked increase 
in the Chinese population in Scarborough led to racially sparked tensions. 
In 1984, some Scarborough residents started to blame Chinese immigrants 
for parking and traffic problems in the area and distributed hate literature 
targeting the Chinese community The resulting racial tension prompted the 
mayor to appoint a task force to investigate and mediate race relations within 
the community 

In conjunction with this government effort, a group of dedicated Chinese 
Canadians organized the Federation of Chinese Canadians in Scarborough 
(FCCS), a non-profit organization, to promote equality and harmony within 
the city and to encourage the Chinese to participate in the social, economic 
and political life of the community. I was impressed by the mission of the FCCS 
and volunteered to work there as a director and secretary in 1989. Most of 
my colleagues were much younger than me, but I admired their energy and 
dedication and they respected my background and experience. It was the first 
time I had become involved with a major community organization, and gave 
me a first-hand education on civic duty and political participation. At that time, 
very few Hong Kong immigrants of my age had any interest in working for non- 
profit organizations such as the FCCS. 

I had another experience in political participation that year, but under 
tragic circumstances. In the spring of 1989, politically active Chinese Canadians 
had formed the "Toronto Committee of Chinese Canadians Supporting the 
Movement for Democracy in China" (later re-named 'Toronto Association 
for Democracy in China" (TADC)) to show their sympathy for students 
demonstrating in Beijing's Tiananmen Square and to support human rights and 
democracy in China. After the Chinese government declared martial law on 26 

180 The Dragon and the Crown 

May, the committee planned to stage a demonstration in front of the Chinese 
Consulate General in Toronto to support the students. Since the FCCS was 
one of the organizations in the committee and I was its secretary, I quickly 
telephoned all our members and urged them to take part in the demonstration, 
which my family and I also joined. The group protesting outside the consulate 
that day reached over thirty thousand. 1 was sixty-four years old then, and this 
was the first and (so far) the only time in my life that I have taken to the streets 
for a political cause. Then, on 4 June, tanks rolled down the streets of Beijing 
into Tiananmen Square and brutally suppressed the nascent pro-democracy 
movement, thus crushing yet another dream of China embracing democracy 
and abandoning authoritarian rule. 

A series of mass demonstrations also took place in Hong Kong during May 
and early June that year, and one of the demonstrations had over one million 
participants. I too would have joined the demonstrations had 1 remained in 
Hong Kong. Mass participation on this scale and with such unity of purpose was 
unprecedented in Hong Kong, and 1 wondered whether it signified the beginning 
of the peoples involvement in the political process. I like to think that this had 
sown the seeds for greater political participation and activism in Hong Kong in 
later years, such as the demonstration on 1 July 2003 protesting the enactment 
of a national security bill under Article 23 of the Basic Law (which involved up 
to half a million people), and other demonstrations in subsequent years calling 
for universal suffrage. 

This series of events affected me deeply. Through my participation in both 
the FCCS and the 26 May demonstration, I came to realize that democracy 
requires us to watch out for our rights constantly, and make our voices heard. 
Although we are able to vote for our representatives in government as Canadian 
citizens, in reality our rights and freedom can easily be eroded if we were not 
politically engaged and vigilant. 

I have seen this clearly through the activism of my nephew Cheuk and his 
friends in the Chinese Canadian community over the past thirty years. After 
immigrating to Canada in 1976, Cheuk joined a group of friends in publishing 
The Asianadian, a magazine promoting Asian Canadian identity arts, politics and 
community activism. Cheuk later became involved in the "Ami W-5" movement 
to protest against a nationally televised show called "Campus Giveaway" which 
claimed that "foreigners" were taking away places from Canadians in the 
universities, when in fact the "foreigners" were Chinese Canadians. The protest 
resulted in a public apology by the television network and the establishment ol 
the Chinese Canadians National Council (CCNC) in 1980 to promote the rights 
of Chinese Canadians and to encourage their full participation in Canadian 
society. Both Cheuk and his friend Dr. Joseph Wong, \\ ho served as the CCNCs 
founding president, were active members of this organization. 

Home and Country 181 

Over the years, the CCNC has taken up a number of issues, including: the 
National Emergency Service for Chinese Students in Canada in the aftermath 
of June 4; the Chinese Exclusion Act and Head Tax Redress Campaign, which 
resulted in an official apology by the Canadian Government in 2006; and other 
movements promoting race relations and multiculturalism. The FCCS, where I 
volunteered, is itself a chapter of the CCNC. 

A Long Farewell 

My family and I have made our home in Canada since we immigrated in 1984 
and have not thought about returning to live in Hong Kong. Wing Kin and 1 
prefer the spacious living in Toronto to the cramped streets of Hong Kong. Both 
Yvonne and Elaine have pursued stable careers as medical technologists after 
graduating from the University of Toronto (although Yvonne later switched to 
teaching, which she enjoys more), and they have married and started their own 
families. Over the years, Wing Kin and I have taken several trips back to Hong 
Kong and mainland China, but we are always glad to return to our home in 

Some of my initial trips back to Hong Kong were to say a last farewell to 
those who had been dear to me. My first return visit was in March 1985, only six 
months after I landed in Canada. On the morning of 28 March, my elder brother 
Man Kwong called me in Toronto to tell me that Mother had passed away I 
rushed back to Hong Kong the next day, but Wing Kin could not accompany 
me since she had to stay and take care of our daughters. Unfortunately, our two 
younger brothers, Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong, could not come to Hong Kong 
to attend the funeral since they were unable to obtain government approval 
in time. We followed Buddhist rituals for the funeral service, in accordance 
with our family tradition, and Mother's ashes are stored in Chi Lin Nunnery in 
Diamond Hill, Kowloon, in a niche that she had bought many years ago close to 
the niche where Father's ashes were stored and right next to the one that Aunt 
Rose had reserved for herself. Whenever 1 visit Hong Kong, 1 would go to Chi 
Lin to pay my respects to my parents. 

My second trip back to Hong Kong to say farewell was in December 
1988 when Man Kwong passed away. Although Man Kwong had reached the 
retirement age of sixty in 1981, Dah Chong Hong's board persuaded him to 
stay on in their Tokyo branch, first as managing director and later as an advisor. 
In the meantime, his wife, Amy, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and 
moved back to Hong Kong in 1986 for better medical care and support, and 
Man Kwong commuted between Hong Kong and Tokyo until he fully retired at 
the end of 1987. Just as he was finally ready to enjoy his retirement, however, 
he was diagnosed with cancer. Although he was immediately admitted to the 

182 The Dragon and the Crown 

hospital for treatment, it was too late as the cancer was at an advanced state; 
he passed away on 21 December 1988, the day of the winter solstice. 1 was 
shocked when I heard the sad news from Cheuk and rushed back to Hong 
Kong with Wing Kin. Man Kwong's funeral had a large attendance, including 
senior management and staff from both Dah Chong Hong and Hang Seng Bank, 
his former schoolmates from Pui Ching Middle School, and relatives from our 
extended families. Recalling Man Kwong's devotion to his work and family, I 
thought of the words of Zhuge Liang from the period of the Three Kingdoms: 
"Bending oneself to the task and exerting oneself to the utmost, until ones 
dying day." 

Tse Kwong, who could not come for Mothers funeral, was there to attend 
Man Kwong's funeral since he had moved to Hong Kong after his retirement. 
Yuan Kwong's visit to Hong Kong was approved but he missed the funeral by a 
few days, again because of delays in processing his application. Since that brief 
period immediately after the war when we lived together in Hong Kong, the 
four brothers in our family had never had the chance to be together again. Tse 
Kwong and Yuan Kwong both left for the Mainland in 1949, and Man Kwong 
lived abroad for most of his career. I found it sad that, with Man Kwong's passing, 
we would never be together again; in fact, we do not even have a picture of the 
four of us together. Perhaps this was our fate. 

Wing Kin and I visited Hong Kong a third time in April 1991 when Amy 
passed away, slightly more than two years after Man Kwong's death. We flew 
back in time to give our condolences and support to Man Kwong's children 
Cheuk and Nicole. I missed Amy; she was not only my sister-in-law but also my 
classmate at Western District Primary School, and I had fond memories of her. 
Tse Kwong, Yuan Kwong and I were able to get together at Amy's funeral, but 1 
would not see them again until the handover of Hong Kong in 1997. 

1997 — Hong Kong Returning to the Motherland 

When the British finally handed sovereignty over Hong Kong back to China 
in 1997 — an event that I had dreamed about throughout my youth — I had 
already been living in Canada for thirteen years. 

On 30 June 1997 I tuned in to the live television broadcast of the handover 
ceremonies in Hong Kong, and watched from the edge of my sofa as the rain 
turned heavy and Chris Patten, the last governor, stood to attention in front of 
Government House as the Union Jack was lowered for the last time. Drenched 
by the rain, he bowed his head as he took the neatly folded flag in his hands, as 
if feeling the weight of history. At midnight Patten attended the formal handing- 
over ceremony, and later that night he and his family boarded the royal yacht 
Britannia together with Prince Charles to leave the now-former colony. 

Home and Countiy 183 

After the broadcast, I immediately telephoned Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong 
and shared with them my mixed feelings of joy and anxiety. On the one hand, 
it was an event that we had longed for ever since we were young — the end 
to colonial rule; on the other, I wondered what would happen to Hong Kong 
under Chinese rule. I had not seen my brothers for a long time but, through 
our correspondence, I knew that both of them had been enthusiastic about the 
economic reforms that Deng had introduced in 1979. They now urged me to 
visit China to see for myself. 

Wing Kin and I followed their suggestion and visited Beijing, Shanghai and 
Shenzhen in November and December that year, stopping by Hong Kong on 
our way back to visit our friends and relatives. Even though I had read about 
economic developments in China as a result of Deng's Reform and Opening 
policy, I was amazed by the changes I saw. The streets of Beijing that were once 
cluttered with bicycles were now congested with cars and buses. Old buildings 
and siheyuan had been demolished and replaced by modern, multi-storey office 
buildings, hotels and blocks of apartments. Colourful and stylish clothing 
had replaced the once ubiquitous grey and blue Mao suits. A great variety of 
consumer goods crowded the shelves of stores and supermarkets, and many 
small retail shops and restaurants had opened up on the formerly grey, deserted 
streets. One of the most widely talked about topics in Beijing at that time was 
xiagang — stepping down from one's position. Millions of workers had been laid 
off as a result of the restructuring or closing down of state-owned enterprises. 
Remembering the industrial complexes that I had visited in the Northeast in 
1977, I wondered about the fate of the workers who were once so proud of 
their factories. We asked our taxi driver, a man in his forties who had worked 
previously as a truck driver in a factory, how he felt about the changes. "1 will 
try to pursue a better life," he said, "but I will have to work even harder. The 
state will no longer provide for us like in the days of Chairman Mao." 

Construction sites had sprung up everywhere, in all the cities we visited, as 
if making up for lost time. I no longer recognized in Shenzhen the small dusty 
town that I had visited in the early 1980s. Tse Kwong and Yim Sheung had decided 
to make Shenzhen their retirement home. Yim Sheung had left Guangzhou for 
Hong Kong in 1983, and was later joined by Tse Kwong after he retired in 1986. 
Finding Hong Kong too expensive, they later settled in Shenzhen where their 
eldest son Niandong was working, and bought a two-bedroom apartment on the 
27th floor of a high-rise condominium. The finishing on the outside walls was 
coarse and uneven compared to apartments in Hong Kong, but the building was 
equipped with all the facilities that they previously lacked in Guangzhou. Tse 
Kwong's apartment building was situated at the edge of a residential complex 
and had a clear view over the East Lake Reservoir, but elsewhere high-rise 
office and apartment buildings had sprung up all over the city. Cars, buses and 

184 The Dragon and the Crown 

trucks flooded the city streets and rilled the highways connecting Hong Kong 
to Guangzhou. Watching all this from Tse Kwong's apartment, 1 could feel the 
strong pulse of China's economic reforms. 

Both Tse Kwong and Yim Sheung were living on a government pension, 
which was (fortunately) indexed to inflation. At the time of his retirement, Tse 
Kwong's salary was just over 100 yuan, which was a very modest sum in view of 
the higher cost of living in Shenzhen. Fortunately, Yim Sheung had purchased a 
small apartment when she lived in Hong Kong and had sold it at a profit, thus 
generating sufficient savings for their retirement in Shenzhen. To be able to lead 
a relatively comfortable life in retirement seemed to be the least they deserved 
after a life of hardship and service to their country. 

Tse Kwong was happy to see the opening-up of the economy and was quite 
relieved that he no longer had to deal with politics, but he was still concerned 
about the direction of the country's development. "We now have too much 
'hardware' and too little 'software'," he said. "We are importing large quantities 
of machinery and equipment, but we don't have enough trained engineers and 
technicians to use them. I'm even more worried that China's legal system is 
not yet fully developed, which leaves many loopholes for mismanagement and 

All his concerns were justified, but China seemed to be in a hurry to make 
up for all the years that had been lost in political turmoil. Large billboards 
with Deng Xiaoping's famous saying, "To get rich is glorious", had been put 
up everywhere in the city. Restaurants, shops, department stores and fast-food 
outlets (both the ubiquitous McDonald's and its many imitators) had sprung up 
everywhere. On the streets, the fashions and accessories of Shenzhen residents 
were no longer distinguishable from those of the people in Hong Kong. Tse 
Kwong confessed to me, however, that he felt nostalgic for the emphasis on 
equality and belief in self-sacrifice that had characterized the early days of the 

Knowing my intellectual curiosity, Tse Kwong took me to visit Book City, 
the city's largest bookstore, which occupied an entire multi-storey building in a 
busy commercial district. Visiting the store with Tse Kwong reminded me of the 
days when he would take me to the pro-PRC bookstores in Hong Kong stocked 
full of the works of Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong. Now, half a century 
later, books on political ideology occupied only a quiet, almost deserted corner 
of Book City; instead, books on science, technology, management, philosophy 
and Western literature flooded the shelves. Many young people stood by the 
book shelves and read quietly, just as we did many years ago. What a long and 
winding road China had had to travel! But I was happy to see that, at long last, 
there was now some freedom in the peoples quest for knowledge; I looked at 
Tse Kwong and felt quite sure that he shared my thoughts. 

Home and Country 185 

Since childhood I have always dreamed of a rich and independent China. In 
the late nineteenth century, intellectuals and officials of the Qing dynasty hoped 
to build a stronger China under the "Self-strengthening Movement", which 
advocated adopting Western technology while retaining traditional values. 
Their slogan was: "Chinese learning as the fundamental structure; Western 
learning for practical use." However, this did not stop Western and Japanese 
imperial forces from invading China and weakening the Qing dynasty, until it 
was eventually overthrown. More than a century and a half later, after trying 
to implement socialism for three decades, China had started to open up the 
country and introduce a market economy. Now the official policy was to build 
"socialism with Chinese characteristics" — which essentially meant introducing 
a capitalist market economy while retaining the existing Leninist party structure. 
Tse Kwong and I both wondered how it would work out this time. We promised 
each other to continue exchanging our views and observations on developments 
in China, as we had done when young. 

"We have ended up living in two different worlds," Tse Kwong said before 1 
left Shenzhen. "1 only wish we could see each other more often. 1 have so much 
to share with you." 

"China is my motherland," I said. "It will always have a place in my heart, 
but I do not regret emigrating. In Canada, I can still enjoy Chinese culture while 
the government upholds the rights and freedoms of its citizens. Can China offer 
me the same?" 

"It will take a long time," Tse Kwong shook his head. "If I had been you I 
would have done the same." 

Tse Kwong had become far more analytical and critical since we last met in 
Guangzhou in 1973. However, as far as I knew, Yuan Kwong remained staunchly 
and unquestioningly supportive of the Communist Party. I was not able to meet 
him on my trip, but he would often send me excerpts from Deng Xiaoping's 
writings, details of important party policies and news from China. 

Yuan Kwong had resumed work at the Cultural Bureau of the Nanning City 
government after the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976. High-level city officials 
who shared the same "cow shed" with him during the Cultural Revolution had 
also been re-instated, which gave Yuan Kwong something of a network within 
the government and party bureaucracy. He later married Chen Cuihong, who 
worked in a factory in Nanning, and they had a daughter, Vicky. Yuan Kwong 
retired in 1991 but continued to follow the news of the country's political and 
economic developments actively. 

Fortunately for both Yuan Kwong and Tse Kwong, the mainland government 
had a policy that those who joined the revolution before 1 October 1949 would 
be entitled to full medical benefits after their retirement. Yuan Kwong had made 
the cut-off just in time when he crossed the border from Hong Kong to the 

186 The Dragon and the Crown 

Mainland on 30 September 1949. I felt somewhat comforted that he could at 
least enjoy this one benefit from the country that he had served so unswervingly 
for over forty years. 

There is also some consolation in that even though our generation suffered 
war, revolution, separation and, in the case of Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong, 
political and economic hardships, the next generation seems to have been able 
to enjoy peace and prosperity at last. Both of Tse Kwong's sons did well, although 
their schooling had been interrupted frequently during the Cultural Revolution. 
Niandong, who had a knack for business, first worked in a restaurant and later 
became a salesman for a factory in Shenzhen which produced porcelain ware 
for export. He was subsequently promoted to factory manager and actively ran 
the business between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Sadly, Niandong died in 2007 
at the young age of forty-seven. Nianfeng, Tse Kwong's younger son, left China 
with the help of Man Kwong to study in Tokyo and at the University of Western 
Ontario in Canada. He later settled in Japan, worked for Dah Chong Hong and 
several foreign multinational companies, and married a Japanese. Yuan Kwongs 
daughter, Vicky, pursued postgraduate studies in Australia with the help of 
Man Kwong's children, and later returned to China to work for a multinational 
company in Shenzhen. She emigrated to Canada in 2007. 

After visiting the Mainland in 1997, 1 stopped in Hong Kong and visited 
Aunt Rose, who had brought me and my family so much joy and economic 
support when we were in need. Aged ninety-two, she was the only one of my 
parents' siblings still alive. Although her back was hunched and her movements 
had slowed, Aunt Rose was still extremely enthusiastic and charming, and her 
memory continued to serve her well; every year she would remember to send 
me a birthday card in Toronto. The first question she asked when we met was: 
"Have you received the birthday cards I sent you in the past years?" She had 
some hearing difficulties but her voice still boomed as we chatted eagerly about 
my childhood and our happy days together. Aunt Rose was the last link to my 
parents' generation; she passed away two years after our meeting, and 1 shall 
always miss her. 

Fallen Seeds Taking Root 

I find that the more experience I have of freedom and democracy in Canada, the 
more mixed are my feelings towards China — the land of my ancestors. 

Thanks to Deng Xiaoping's Reform and Opening policy China's economy 
has progressed by leaps and bounds, with GDP growing at a relentless rate of 
8-10 percent per year. Deng Xiaoping's strategy of "letting a small group of 
people get rich first" has been successful, and Chinas status and influence in the 
international arena has never been so high. Some predict that the twenty-first 

Home and Country 187 

century will be Chinas century, just as the twentieth century was America's. As 
far as its economic achievements are concerned, China is close to meeting the 
ideals of my youth, but in the areas of democracy, human rights and individual 
freedom, China is still far from meeting international standards. A large 
percentage of the population is still very poor, with a great disparity in wealth 
between ordinary people and those with means and political power. There is 
also rampant corruption, and Chinese citizens are still denied many of the basic 
democratic rights provided by the constitution. 

The feelings of overseas Chinese towards their motherland are often mixed. 
Although many of us disagree with Chinas politics, we rejoice when its athletes 
win Olympic medals, or when its astronauts successfully complete a journey 
into space. We also contribute to charitable funds for disaster relief, and raise 
money for AIDS orphans on the Mainland. On the other hand, we are dismayed 
when we hear about peasants protesting at the seizure of their land by property 
developers in cahoots with corrupt cadres, or about dissidents being placed 
under arrest without due process of law. 

According to an old Chinese saying, "Fallen leaves return to their roots", 
those who have gone overseas usually want to return to their native land. Many 
Chinese Canadians have returned to Hong Kong and the Mainland to take 
advantage of opportunities provided by China's vibrant economy. I am fortunate 
in that I have long since retired and no longer have to work for a living. In 
my circumstance, so long as the people's rights to freedom and democracy are 
not realized, my chances of "returning to my roots" are slim. I prefer instead 
to follow another traditional saying, "Fallen seeds take root where they land" 
— moving to a foreign country and establishing roots there. 

Having said my long farewell to Hong Kong, 1 increasingly feel that Canada 
is my home. My last trip was in November 1999 when Wing Kin and I visited 
the Mainland, hoping to see my younger brothers one more time. We met 
Tse Kwong in Shenzhen and the three of us booked flights from Shenzhen to 
Nanning to meet with Yuan Kwong. Unfortunately, we were unable to make the 
trip because Wing Kin fell and broke one of her fingers. We returned to Hong 
Kong immediately and flew back to Toronto, heaving a sigh of relief when we 
reached home. This was my last visit to Hong Kong and mainland China. 

Aside from becoming my home, Canada is also where I have finally found my 
spiritual belonging. Since retiring in 1984, 1 have had more time to ponder about 
my ideals and the meaning of life. Our daughters both converted to Christianity 
soon after arriving in Canada and, curious about their faith and their circle of 
friends, Wing Kin and I started to join them at Sunday worship, church events 
and meetings. We were baptized and became Christians in 1989. 

My conversion was not an easy path for me, as I was inquisitive by profession 
and often took a rational and scientific approach to questions of religion and 

188 The Dragon and the Crown 

faith. However, I looked at the examples of Albert Einstein and Dr. Sun Yat-sen, 
the idol of my youth, who were both Christians. Einstein, especially, gave me 
much inspiration. He believed in a God "who reveals Himself in the harmony 
of all that exists". Searching for God's design was "the source of all true art and 
science", he said. He also said that we are but a speck in an unfathomably large 
universe; the more insights we gain into its mysterious forces, whether cosmic 
or atomic, the more reasons we have to be humble. 

After much soul searching and reflection, 1 came to the conclusion that 
in order to pursue an ideal life, we need not just knowledge but also religion: 
knowledge to understand and tackle the issues we face in life, and religion for 
our peace of mind and a positive attitude in pursuing our paths. 

I was fortunate to have found faith, since it has given me much-needed 
strength and solace as I have come to a sad and difficult period of my life. In 
1999, when Wing Kin and I were both over seventy and should have been happily 
enjoying the golden years of our lives, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's 
disease. I became her caregiver and have had to face many challenges in my 
new role. My perseverance, confidence, and patience have been constantly put 
to test. When she makes a blunder, I pick up the pieces. When she is upset, I 
have to comfort her. When she becomes unreasonable, I try to treat her like a 
child. Fortunately, my mental and physical health are still sound, even though 
1 have developed hypertension. To comfort me, Yvonne gave me a copy of the 
Serenity Prayer: 

God grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change; courage to 
change the things 1 can; and wisdom to know the difference. 

We were also fortunate to be able to enjoy the social and medical benefits 
provided by the Canadian government, and to benefit from the efforts of 
Chinese Canadians to take care of their elders. In June 2005 we moved to 
Yee Hong Garden Terrace at the advice of Cheuk and Dr. Joseph Wong, who 
founded the Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care. Our new home is nestled in a 
senior-friendly, Chinese-speaking apartment complex which offers community 
programmes, a medical emergency system, and medical facilities in an adjacent 
building, all of which allow us to live independently and with dignity. 

I therefore have much to be thankful for. Even though it has been difficult 
at times, my care-giving experience has helped me understand the meaning of 
love, and thus the spirit of Christianity: 

Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. 
(Corinthians 13) 

Appendix I 

The Chinese Gold 
and Silver Exchange Society 

Established in 1910, the Hong Kong Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society 
specialized in the buying and selling of gold bullions. However, gold and 
silver coins and paper currencies of the United States, Japan, Indo-China, the 
Philippines and Mexico were also traded in the pre-war days and during the 
early post-war years. 

Gold traded in the society is of 99 percent fineness, weighed in taels 
and quoted in Hong Kong dollars, whereas gold traded in the European and 
American markets is of 99.5% fineness, weighed in troy ounces and quoted 
in US dollars. Tael, also known as "liang' (f^j), is a Chinese weight measuring 
unit. One tael is equivalent to 38.5 grams and 1 troy ounce is equivalent to 31.1 
grams; therefore 1 tael is equivalent to 1.24 troy ounces. 

The minimum unit of transaction in the society is 100 taels. Members of the 
society are allowed to hold an open position of up to 3,000 taels in the buying 
and selling of gold. If this limit is exceeded a margin deposit of HK$75,000 per 
100 taels will have to be paid. This limit and the amount of margin deposit are 
subject to change, depending on the fluctuation of gold prices. 

The amount of margin deposit paid by clients to members varies with 
the amount of margin required from members by the society. In certain cases, 
however, clients are allowed smaller margin deposits. 

In principle, settlement of all transactions in the trading hall has to be 
effected within one business day. However, settlement can be rolled over until 
the next business day or indefinitely subject to the constraints of the "carried 
over charges system" whereby interest is to be paid either by the seller or the 
buyer, depending on which party defers either delivery or taking delivery. There 
is also a "daily storage fee" of HK$6 per 100 taels outstanding at the close of 

The so-called "carried over charges system" works as follows. On each 
business day, at 11.00 a.m. (10.30 a.m. on Saturday) the society takes stock 
of the amount of physical gold for spot delivery. If there is an excess demand 

J 90 The Dragon and the Crown 

for spot deliver}', sellers deferring delivery of the gold will be charged interest 
in favor of the buyers. Interest so paid is known as "positive interest". In a 
situation of excess supply, buyers deferring taking delivery will be charged 
interest in favor of the sellers. Interest so paid is known as "negative interest". 
No interest will be paid either by the seller or the buyer if the demand for and 
supply of physical gold delivery is in equilibrium. If this is the case a situation 
of "even interest" arises. 

This "carried over charges system" stipulates that payment of interest is 
divided into five classes. If a disequilibrium situation in demand and supply 
persists, interest will be adjusted upward — one class for every three consecutive 
days (from first class to second class and so on until the fifth highest class). 
If the disequilibrium subsides interest will be back to an "even interest" level 
after which it will scale up again should either a "negative interest" or "positive 
interest" situation develop. The amount of interest is expressed as $x per 10 
taels and is calculated on the previous day's afternoon price fixing. In order to 
avoid complications, in the gold trading contracts the term "interest" is referred 
to as the "handling charge". 

The existence of such a system enables the society, which is basically 
a physical spot market, to evolve into something akin to an undated future 
market. (Market participants have the option of deferring delivery with no fixed 
date of delivery). 

To facilitate the settlement of members 1 accounts the society fixes prices 
twice daily (i.e. the morning fixing and the afternoon fixing.) These fixings are 
clearance prices for members to compare the contract prices of various deals 
with the fixed prices and transfer the proceeds of net profit or loss to the society. 
In this way the society assumes the duty of a clearing house. 

Source: Excerpts from the article "Hong Kong — An International Gold Trading 
Centre" published in Hang Seng Economic Quarterly, January 1983. 

Appendix II 
The Hang Seng Index 

When was the Index started? 

The Hang Seng Index was first published in November 1969. It started out 
at 100 on 31 July 1964, which is the original base date of the Index. Since its 
inception, it has been the most widely quoted indicator of the general price 
movements in the Hong Kong stock market. 

What does the Index reflect? 

The Hang Seng Index is composed of a representative sample of stocks. It serves 
two main purposes. First, it traces the day-to-day general price movement of 
the market. Second, it reflects the performance of the market as a whole, i.e., 
the combined experience of all investors in stocks. The Index literally sets a 
standard, against which investors and portfolio managers could measure their 
own performance over a period of time. 

Above all, the Hang Seng Index reproduces the performance of a hypothetical 
or model portfolio. The interest in each constituent stock is always proportionate 
to its market value. This characteristic is not affected by any capital changes of 
the constituent stocks or changes in the list of constituent stocks. 

In case of a rights issue, for instance, the model portfolio would "take up" 
the rights and increase its interest in that particular constituent stock, thereby 
reducing its relative holdings in all others. Hence, the resulting interest in each 
constituent stock is still proportionate to its "new" market value. 

Similarly, if any constituent stock is replaced, the model portfolio would 
dispose of all its interest in the old constituent and take up an interest in the 
new constituent, thus reducing its relative holdings in the remaining stocks. 
Therefore, replacement of constituent stocks from time to time will not create 
any havoc or inconsistency. It is but a feature of portfolio management. 

192 The Dragon and the Crown 

Computation Methodology 

Basic Concept 

In statistical terms, the Hang Seng Index is a Laspeyre's type price index, 
weighted by the number of outstanding issued shares of the constituent 
stocks on the base day. 

The basic formula is simple: divide the aggregate current market 
value of constituent stocks (i.e. the sum of the products of the current 
market prices of stocks and their respective numbers of issued shares) by 
the aggregate base market value of these stocks. That is: 

Aggregate Market Value at Current Market Prices 

H.S.I. = x 100 

Aggregate Market Value at Base Market Prices 

Allowances are made for capital changes in the constituent stocks or 
changes in the list of constituent stocks, and the Index in effect consists 
of a number of "chain-linked" series, each link occurring at the point of 
time of such changes. 

Computation Formula 

For convenience in computation, the daily chaining approach is used. 
The computation formula is as follows: 

Today's Todays Current AMV Yesterday's 

Current = x Closing 

Index Yesterday's Closing AMV# index 

# Yesterday's closing AMV (aggregate market value) is adjusted for any 
capital changes in the list of constituent stocks. 

Treatment of Suspended Stocks 

When a constituent stock is suspended from trading, it is temporarily 
excluded from the computation of the sub-index concerned. If suspension 
occurs during trading hours, the necessary adjustments will be made at 
the end of the current trading session. Until then, the suspended stock 
will be included in the real time index calculation at the last market 
price before suspension. 

Source: Excerpts from A Guide to Hang Seng Index published by HSI Services 
Ltd. in 1988. 

Appendix III 
The Teachings of Chairman Ho 

An excerpt from Yue Si Qian Tan HfJtJt£li& 
(A Talk about My Life Experience) 

Your success or failure in life depends upon the strength of your will. A strong 
will allows you to overcome difficulties and succeed in your undertakings. 
However, knowledge and experience are also important, and a lack of either 
would be a major weakness. You will become susceptible to outside influence or 
material temptations, and will waver and become indecisive. This is the major 
cause of failure in one's career. 

Young people lack experience and are therefore more impulsive and easily 
offended. When they encounter setbacks, which are inevitable in life, they 
become angry and will often resort to verbal abuse or even physical violence. This 
not only upsets the people around them but also harms their relationships with 
other people. In human relationships, therefore, one must start by cultivating 
oneself; the keys to success are patience and forgiveness. 

mm ' izmmm • &mm& ° ummmmm - ^sm^w ° um^rn 
mmmmz - mmx^mxm^ ° mn^m^m^nmmm ■ m^xw^ 

Source: The booklet Yue Si Qian Tan (A Talk about My Life Experience) by Ho 
Sin Hang, (f5f#ftf|f : UTO^M), Hong Kong, 1969. (English translation by 
the authors.) 

194 The Dragon and the Crown 

Hang Seng Bank Service Motto U£.M'{JMffiWi t & 

Greet your customers with an amiable smile, %^-^E^UM, 

And salute them by calling their names out loud. M9l$=L$L & 

Perform your duties expeditiously, Iff MfcBUi 

And be sincere when rendering your services. J3EIS£lc *M 

Always be humble towards your customers, WkMlfeW-W. 

And be brief and concise when answering their questions. Pollarffi Mffi 

Be considerate of the needs of your customers, t^^-WM^l 

And bow and thank them for their patronage. flllBitt^lHif 

Source: Service motto written by Ho Sin Hang in the 1960s for the Hang Seng 
Bank staff. (English translation by the authors.) 

Appendix IV 

Quotations, Sayings and 

Slogans in Chinese 

1. Roots 

The Tang Family to the Rescue 

Many fortunes, long life, and many male descendents. 

School Days and the Seeds of Patriotism 

Only by bearing the hardest hardship can one rise to the top. 

2. Baptism by Fire 

The Battle oj Hong Kong 

We will pay taxes to whoever is the emperor. 

Those who understand the trend of the times are heroes. 

Free China 

A young man should have the ambition to go to the four corners of the world. 

The blue sky, the white sun and the red earth underneath. 
One drop of gasoline, one drop of blood. 
The entire nation in arms. 

196 The Dragon and the Crown 
Every citizen a soldier. 

A good son should never join the army. 

Wartime Interpreter 

In heaven and on earth, there is no more dreadful din than that of a Cantonese 
speaking Mandarin. 

^lEJiwtra ' mmmMxm^m 

The Buima Campaign 

Join the war of resistance and build up our nation. To build our nation, we must 
first build our army. The building of our army starts here. 
Vanquish our enemies and achieve our goals. To achieve our goals, it is important 
to follow a virtuous path. With virtues on our side we will be invincible. 

®muh ' AL^iXmiim ' ALBtmrnm ° 

(Source: the couplet on the gate pillars at the entrance to the Qujing Motor 

4. Hang Seng Bank 

New Career 

A grasp of worldly affairs is genuine knowledge; the understanding of human 

relations is true learning. 

(Source: A Dream of Red Mansions, Chapter 5) 

Humble Beginnings 

At thirty we stand on our own feet. 

The Teachings oj Chairman Ho 

He who wishes to be established assists others to be established; 
He who wishes to be successful assists others to be successful. 

(Source: The Analects of Confucius) 

Appendix IV: Quotations, Sayings and Slogans in Chinese 197 

If you can one day renovate yourself, do so from day to day. Yea, let there be 
daily renovation. 

^Bff ' SBff - XHff ° 

(Source: The Great Learning, one of the Four Books) 

Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application? 
(Source: The Analects of Confucius) 

Years of Turmoil 

Oppose the British and resist violence. 

5. New China 

The Price of Patriotism 

The Revolution has not yet been successfully concluded. 

Let all our comrades continue to make every effort to carry it out. 

(Source: Dr. Sun Yat-sens Last Will and Testament) 

If you have not been to the Great Wall, you cannot be a brave man. 


Return to the motherland to witness her reconstruction. 

Use, criticize, alter, create 

m ' ft • & ' to 

Deeply dig caves and extensively store grains. 

m&m ' mmm 

6. Home and Country 

A Question of Nationality 

A hundred flowers blossomed and a hundred schools of thoughts contended. 

198 The Dragon and the Crown 

Farewell to Hong Kong 

Once a person leaves his village, he will be looked down upon. 


Becoming Canadian 

Shovel the snow in front of your own doorsteps, and disregard the frost on the 

roof of your neighbours' house. 

A Long Farewell 

Bending oneself to the task and exerting oneself to the utmost, until one's dying 

1997 — Hong Kong Returning to the Motherland 

Chinese learning as the fundamental structure; Western learning for practical 

Fallen Seeds Taking Root 
Fallen leaves return to their roots. 

3m fits 

Fallen seeds take root where they land. 


All-Hong Kong Students' National 
Salvation & War Relief Association 

Anti-Rightist Campaign fztiWLW] 
Apollo Book Store QfflMJS 

Bajin E# 

Babu )\P 

Bai Hua S# 

Baojia f^Ep 

Bei Jiang iWL 

Big Character Poster ^^f§ 

Bing Di M3? 

Bo Ai Tang t#^^ 

Boh loh |f£H 

China Mutual Trading Company 

Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society 

Chinese Representative Council 

Ching Lin Terrace fil 
Chu Hark Keung %.~%M. 
Chung Hwa Book Store tpWiOiMj 
Chung Sze-yuen iti7E 
Chung Wah Distillery 'T-'HSfPS 
Chung Wah Music Academy 4^13 ^HItc 
Commercial Press jSj^S fulfill 
Convention of Chuanbi !^||Jj=l$J 
Cow shed ^p-ffl 

Cai Yuanpei W;it^ 

Cangshan lf[i| 

Canton Merchants' Volunteer Corps 

Canton Trust and Commercial Bank 

Central College ^W^c 

Chan Chark Tong WW^. 

Chan Kwan Po P^ftf^ 

Chan Lim Pak WM\& 

Chan Yee Yeung Tong pifilitfilg' 

Cheng Bao ZEIS 

Cheng Hoi Chuen, Vincent WM?k 

Cheongsam H$^ 

Cheung Wing Min "MUM 

Chi Lin Nunnery T&Mffi'fc 

China Emporium tffSf^Bl 

Dah Chong Hong ^Hfr 

Dao Heng Bank JH^tlff 

Dazhalan Affiffif 

Defend Our Country China f^ftf I t J #? 

Dong Jiang }|E?I 

Dongcheng district MfflM. 

Dream of Red Mansions, A ■SEflil? 

Du Zong {8^ 

Duan Zong iffi^? 

Dunn, Lydia M$P 

Dushan M\h 

Eight Thousand Miles of Cloud and Moon 

Entertainment Building WtWft 
Erhai Lake MM 

200 The Dragon and the Crown 

FAB Interpreter Training School 9YW>-f^lM 


Family, Spring, Autumn %. - # ' fk 
Fight our Way Back to the Northeast 

Foki \>m 
Fook Chai Insurance Company 

Fook Hing Oil Refiner)' Company 

Fook Lee Hong HflJfT 

Fu, Lu, Shou M ' W ' W 

Fundamentals of National Reconstruction 


Gaoyao MW 
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Gong Peng W&, 
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Great Southwest Bastion of China's 
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Guan Yu gl^J 
Guandi SS^ 
Guang Xu jt$& 
Guangming Daily jt^ Hftz 
Guangzhouwan JUN'HJtt 
Gui Mingyang f±£J§ 
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Guo Moruo fft^^j 

Hang Seng Bank 'U^Ufj 

Hang Seng Yinhao g^ilM 

He Xiangning itfWM 

Heibang IK 

Heixian M 

Hengyang Hjd 

Ho Biu fnf$g 


Ho Ling Fai fnf^Mi}'' 

Ho Sai Lai MM 

Ho Sin Hang fBJUttj 

Ho Tak Ching ftlgft 

Ho Tim f6J$S 

Ho Tse Cheuk, David fnj^'b^ 

Hoiping ffl+f 

Hon Wah Middle School jl W? 


Hong Kong Times #j#B#$g 
Hong Xiannu &&&. 
Hotung, Robert |5Jjf[ 
Hsueh Yueh I?-gr 
Hua Chiao Commercial Bank 


Huang Daoming WlH.®M 

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Huang Jen-lin wtiZM 

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Huizhou BF.'J'H 

Hunan Normal University 

Hung Tak Yinhao W&W3H 

Hung Yue Yinhao M^iM^ 

Hutong t^[p] 

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Jiangxi Medical College iliSii^PI^ 
Jiujiang (in Jiangxi Province) fllL 


Joint Publishers Ltd. H^iltiS 
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Kaiping Hfl^F 

Kan Tong-po ffi^ffi 

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Kaukong (Jiujiang) (in Guangdong 

Province) fliX ( MM ) 
Key Money Jit ^ ft 
Kings College ^iKrP*: 
King's Theatre Wk^kBM 
Kowloon Motor Bus Co. (1933) Ltd. 

Ku Lian i^M 
Kung Lee Hong £;Wft 
Kung Sheung Daily News X.M $£ 
Kung Yulong K 
Kwan Chung Hao Tong Mfc^jtlg. 
Kwok Chan fflfj 
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Kwong Shiu Wah S^ x ¥ 

Lam Bun tttt^ 

Lam Bing Vim rt'^'ifc 

Lap cheung fu Ht8f U$ 

Lee Chiu Po ^M 

Lee Ming Chak, Richard Charles fUifti 

Glossary 201 

Lee Quo Wei/Q.W. Lee fOSff 

Leung Chik Wai ^fli# 

Leung Fung Ki ^HK 

Leung Kau Kui %kWM 

Leung Ki Chai igfr2{f 

Leung Nai Hei Wb*& 

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Liu Chong Hing Bank M®§g?T 

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Liuzhou W'Hi 

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Longling ftgg 

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Ma Kam HHl 

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Ma Liu Shui If £r# 


Ma Sicong Jiigfll. 

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Man Sing 3t^ 

Mao Dun ^/§ 

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Mu Guiying |§S^ 

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Nan Fang College S^¥K 

Nanfang Daily i^Tt" Hftz 

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National Times, The H§ K fg 
New Evening Post 
Nu Jiang tgtL 

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On New Democracy ffK±±^ti 
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Panyu #iSi 

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Qujiang fttC 

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Return to Native Village Certificate 

Returned Overseas Chinese Certificate 

River of Spring Water flowing to the East, A 

Romance of the Three Kingdoms 

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Sam Chi Yan JtWt 
San gui jiu kou HS&AOP 
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Seng Yuan Company $LM%fi 
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Shiu Yuan Yinhao MWWfifo 
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Shoe Money H^z 

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202 The Dragon and the Crown 

Shrine of Successive Generations of Tang 
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Spring and Autumn and Warring States 
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Wang Yao-wu 3LM1& 
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Wuhan Ensemble S^lt^H 

Xi Jiang ffitC 

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Xingya Office ®£5$lli 

Xinhua Bookstore Iff^H/iS 

Xinhua News Agency Iff^Htifttt 

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Yan'an S$ 

Yang Chen Ning tilK^ 

Yang Women Generals tlP^Jr? 

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Yeung Chung Girls' Middle School 


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Glossary 203 

Young Pioneers 'p-ftM 
Yulin 3£# 
Yuntai If IE 

Zhang Hanzhi ^tf&^L 
Zhang Shizhao M±M 
Zhanjiang $j?I 
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Zhuge Liang WiW'jb 


The contents of this book are primarily derived from my own memories, observations and 
reflections, which were later supplemented by my research and personal interviews over 
fifteen years, and more recently with the help of Nicole. We used the following sources 
for background information on the history of Hong Kong and China. Our sources on 
specific topics are listed by chapter below. 

Stanley Kwan 

(1) A Borrowed Place — The History of Hong Kong, Frank Welsh, Kodansha America 
Inc., New York, 1993. 

(2) China: A New History, John King Fairbank and Merle Goldman, The Belknap 
Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1998. 

(3) Jindai Zhongguo Shigang (An Outline of Modern Chinese History), Guo Tingyi 
(fftSiJ^ : Sfift^Hifl), The Chinese University Press, Hong Kong, 1974. 

(4) Precarious Balance: Hong Kong between China and Britain, 1842-1992, Ming K. 
Chan editor, Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong, 1994. 

(5) Xianggang Shi Lue (A Brief History of Hong Kong), Yuan Bangjian (jtffi'^M '• 
Wr^^M), Zhongliu Press, Hong Kong, 1988. 

1. Roots 

The history of my ancestors: 

The Shixilu ("ft^^) — a genealogical record of the Kwan family written in ink 

brushes by my father, Kwan Tsai Tung. 
The yinhao and the banking industry in Hong Kong: 

(1) The Banking System of Hong Kong, T.K. Ghose, Butterworths Asia, Hong Kong, 

(2) Xianggang J inrong Ye Bainian (A Century of Hong Kong Financial Development), 
Fung Bong Yin (MHiBM ■ #^^S4^W¥), Joint Publishing (H.K.) Ltd., 

On the history of the Kwan and Tang families, 1 am truly grateful to the following persons 
for providing me with invaluable information: 

(1) My parents 

(2) Cousin Kwan Lin Chee 

(3) Cousin Kwan Sai Kwong 

(4) Aunt Rose Tang 

206 The Dragon and the Crown 

(5) Cousin Tang Wai Han (daughter of my maternal uncle Shiu Woon), in particular 
her taped interview with Aunt Rose in May 1991 which was a wealth of 

The history of the patriotic activities of students of Kings College: 

Yinghuang Shisheng Aiguo Aigang Qing (The Patriotic Feelings for China and 
Hong Kong Among Teachers and Students of King's College), Leung Chik Wing 
C^^MMM '■ HMM^^H^^ft), Ming Pao Press Ltd., Hong Kong, 2007. 

Dr. Sun Yat-sen's writings and comments: 

(1) Last Will and Testament as translated in All Change Hong Kong, Robert Adley, 
Blandford Press, Poole, Dorset, U.K., 1984 

(2) Remarks during his visit to the University of Hong Kong in 1923: Old Hong Kong, 
Volume Two 1901-1945, Trea Wiltshire, Form Asia Books Limited, Hong Kong, 

2. Baptism by Fire 

The Battle of Hong Kong: 

(1) Wiltshire, Old Hong Kong, Volume Two 

(2) Yuan, Xianggang Shi hue (A Brief History of Hong Kong) 
On the Canadian soldiers: 

The Search of Global Citizenship: The Violation of Human Right in Asia, 1935- 

1945, the Canadian Association for Learning & Preserving the History of WWII, 

Toronto Chapter, 2005 
The Japanese occupation: 

The Fall of Hong Kong: Britain, China and the Japanese Occupation, Philip Snow, 

Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2003 
On Chan Lim Pak: 

(1) Guo, Jin Dai Zhongguo Shigang (An Outline of Modern Chinese History) 

(2) The Soong Dynasty, Sterling Seagrave, Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd., Great Britain. 

The American Volunteer Group (AVG): 
Seagrave, The Soong Dynasty 

While Claire Chennault was the commander of the AVG, Soong May-ling 
(Madame Chiang Kai-shek) and her brother TV Soong, who had held the posts 
of Acting Premier, Finance Minister and Foreign Minister, were responsible for 
the formation of the AVG behind the scene. 

On wartime interpreters: 

An article written by my former army interpreter comrade, Mei Zuyan (tSffl 
j§), titled Junshi fanyiyuan jingli zuiyi (A Recollection of the Experiences of 
Military Interpreters)^!^!! M;f2Mill t& provided a wealth of information 
on the training of wartime interpreters and Chinese soldiers and airmen by 
US instructors and liaison officers. Mei was then a fourth-year student at the 
National Southwest Associated University in Kunming; his father Mei Yiqi (f§!p 
St) was a chancellor of the university and a well-known educator. The Meis did 
not leave China following the Communist takeover of the Mainland, and Zuyan 
eventually became a member of the Chinese Peoples Political Consultative 
Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing. The ten-page article was part of a collection of 
articles written by CPPCC members in March 1995, in commemoration of the 
50th anniversary of Chinas victory in the War of Resistance against Japan. 

Sources 207 

On the China-Burma-India Theatre of War, General Stilwell, the Burma Campaign and 
later the China Theatre of War, I am heavily indebted to the following two sources: 

(1) Stilwell and the American Experience in China 1911-45, Barbara W Tuchman, 
Macmillan Company, New York, 1971 

(2) Huanghe zai paoxiao — Zhongguo de kangzhan (The Roaring Yellow River — 

China's Anti-Japanese War), Yang Yi Min (If— SI 1 : fcM^nS^ ^HW 

JrCiDc), Feng Yun Shi Dai Publishing Company Taipei, 1994 

3. Hong Kong after the War 

The surrender of Japanese forces in Hong Kong: 

Wiltshire, Old Hong Kong, Volume Two 
The organization and operation of the US Defense Department and Foreign Service: 

Encyclopedia Americana, 1997 Edition, Volume 8, pp. 628-629, and Volume 11, 

pp. 577-581. 
I used information that I had gathered from my relatives over the years. I am especially 
grateful to the following persons: 

(1) My brothers, Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong, for recounting their experiences in 
post-war Hong Kong and New China 

(2) My cousin Leung Nai Hei for sharing his experiences in his letter dated 3 April 
1990 from England 

(3) My cousin Kwan Sai Kwong for sharing his experiences 

(4) Wong Man Fai for information regarding the Wong family 

4. Hang Seng Bank 

For the history of the bank and general information on Hong Kong's banking industry. 
I have used as my main reference: Hang Seng — The Evergrowing Bank, which was 
published in 1991 by Hang Seng Bank Ltd. to commemorate the inauguration of the 
bank's new headquarters building. 

In addition, I have used the following sources for more specific topics. 
The Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society: 

"Hong Kong — An International Gold Trading Centre", Hang Seng Economic 

Quarterly, January 1983. (See Appendix A) 
The Teachings of Chairman Ho: 

The booklet Yue Si Qian Tan (A Talk about My Life Experience) (H9tft:§tM), and 

the Hang Seng Bank Service Motto ('E^iRfylS^^ s") written by Ho Sin Hang, 

which were to be read and observed by all bank staff. 
Bank runs during the 1960s: 

Banking and Currency in Hong Kong, Y.C. Yao, The Macmillan Press Ltd.. London, 

Hong Kong during the 1960s: 

I am grateful to my cousin Kwan Hung Kwong and Sam Chi Yan, my former 

classmates at King's College, for sharing their experiences with me. 
Other sources: 

(1) Wiltshire, Old Hong Kong, Volume Two 

(2) An article entitled "Na Yi Ye — Xianggang Jingcha Ba Wo Dai Zou" (That night, 

the Hong Kong Police took me away) by Choi Wai Hang dpriffflj '■ W — W. If 

^HffmE^c^rTl:), former Secretary of Hong Kong Chinese Reform Association, 
Ming Pao Daily News, Toronto, 22 March 2007 

208 The Dragon and the Crown 

Compilation of the Hang Seng Index: 

An article titled "Hang Seng Index" in the October 1979 issue of the Hang Seng 
Economic Quarterly, and the pamphlet A Guide to Hang Seng Index published by 
H.S.I. Services Limited in 1988. (See Appendix B) 

5. New China 

I relied heavily on information that I had gathered from my relatives over the years, 
especially from my brothers Tse Kwong and Yuan Kwong, and Wing Kins sister Shook 

In addition, I have consulted the following sources: 
My tour of Beijing 1973: 

Beijing — China's Ancient and Modern Capital, Liu Junwen, Foreign Language 

Press, Beijing, 1982. 
On the Cultural Revolution: 

Zhongguo Wenge Shinian Shi (Ten Years of Cultural Revolution in China), Yan 

Jiaqi and Gao Gao (jg^K - M^MM "tfJH^t^+^i" ), Ta Kung Pao, 

Hong Kong, 1986 
My tour of northeast China and Beijing in 1976: 

I used information from a log book that our tour group kept on our visits and 

from my own notes. 
On Lee Ming Chak (R.C. Lee): 

Profit, Victory & Sharpness: The Lees of Hong Kong, Vivienne Poy Canada and 

Hong Kong Project, York Centre for Asian Research, York University, Toronto, 

Q.W. Lee's meeting with Deng Xiaoping on 23 June 1984: 

(1) The End of Hong Kong, Robert Cottrell, John Murray (Publishers) Ltd., London, 

(2) South China Morning Post, Hong Kong, 24 June 1984 
Sir Edward Youde and the Amethyst Incident: 

(1) Xianggang Huiyilu (Hong Kong Memoirs), Xu Jiatun (former Director of Xinhua 
News Agency, Hong Kong) (WM^LM '■ ^M\b\'\MM), published by United 
Newspaper Press, Taipei, 1993 

(2) "Wushi Nianqian De 'Zhishuijing Shijian Yu Xianggang" (The Amethyst Incident 
Fifty Years Ago and Hong Kong) by cousin Leung Nai Hei (MTb^M • S+^ 
^tf^j "-^tKH" ^ f^plii #?!!), Brushstroke magazine, Liverpool, England, June 

The Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation (jnj^fnff IJXis): 

Hang Yuan (Hang Seng Garden) Bi-monthly (1§£iS?f£t!^ ''US' 9EfJ), 
Hang Seng Bank Ltd., Hong Kong, No. 281, June-July, 1994 

6. Home and Country 

Bai Hua and the movie Ku Lian (^vS*): 

I am grateful to Lisa Shi for her research. 
On the question of British citizenship and Hong Kong: 

The Government and Politics of Hong Kong, Norman Miners, Oxford University 

Press, Hong Kong, 1986 
The history of early Chinese immigrants to Canada: 

Gold Mountain — The Chinese in the New World, Anthony B. Chan, New Star 

Book Ltd., Vancouver, B.C., 1983 

Sources 209 

The activities of Chinese Canadians: 

I relied on documents and publications from the Federation of Chinese 
Canadians in Scarborough (FCCS), the Toronto Association for Democracy in 
China (TADC), and the Chinese Canadians National Council (CCNC). 

On my conversion to Christianity: 

I received much inspiration from the 31 December 1999 issue of Time Magazine 
nominating Albert Einstein as "The Person of the Century". 

I am also grateful to Hang Seng Bank for continuing to send their publications to me in 
Toronto, which has helped me keep in touch with the bank's activities and Hong Kong's 
economic developments over the years. 

210 The Dragon and the Crown 


Air Raid Precaution (ARP) Service 30 
American Consulate General in Hong 

Kong 97-100, 156-57 
American Volunteer Group (AVG) in 

China 47-48, 50 
Anti-Rightist Campaign, see China 

bank run (1961) 117 
bank runs (1965) 116-22 
British Nationality Act 171 
Burma Campaign 49, 54, 56-59 
Burma Road 47-49, 58, 59 

Canton-Hong Kong General Strike 12 

Census and Statistics Department 130 

Central Policy Unit 163 

Chan Hang Chuen 87-88, 89, 90 

Chan Lim Pak 37-38, 67, 90, 109 

Chan Po Kwong 90-91, 139 

Chan Shook Ling 87, 90, 146-47 

Chan Tse Kiu 87, 90, 139, 144 

Chan Tsok Po 90, 139 

Chan Wing Kin 87-89, 91, 135, 139, 145, 

174, 175, 181-82, 183, 187-88 
Chan Yee Yeung Tong 89 
Chan Yue Chick 89-90, 92-93 
Chennault, Claire 47 
Chiang Kai-shek 20, 44, 48, 52, 55, 59, 

China, Peoples Republic of (PRC) 

— government: up to 19 70, 78, 81, 
82, 93, 95, 96, 99, 102, 107, 126, 
133; after 1970, 134, 135-36, 
150, 152, 154, 156, 159, 160, 161 

— Ministry of Foreign Affairs 74 

— Ministry of Foreign Economic 
Relations and Trade 95, 134 

— Overseas Chinese Affairs Office 

— political movements: Cultural 
Revolution 71, 82, 83, 113, 122, 
123, 124, 127, 134, 136, 139, 
140-42, 147, 151, 152, 169, 
171, 185, 186; Three-Anti and 
Five-Ami Campaigns 80, 82, 98; 
Anti-Rightist Campaign 82; Great 
Leap Forward 82, 94, 122, 123, 
146-47; Four Modernizations 
Programme 150, 151; Self- 
reliance 152, 154-55; Reform and 
Opening 155, 161, 183, 186 

— Xinhua News Agency in Hong 
Kong 74, 81, 82, 134, 160-61 

China Mutual Trading Company 95, 134 
Chinese Army (1942-46) 

China-Burma-India (CBI) Theatre of 
War (1942-45): 

— Chinese Expeditionary 
Force (1942) 48 

— X-Force 49, 55-56, 59; 
New First Army 55; New 
Sixth Army 56 

— Y-Force (Chinese 
Expeditionary Force, 1944) 
49, 56-57, 59; Infantry 
Training Centre (1TC), 
Kunming 54; Motor School 
(Motor Transport Training 

212 Index 

Centre), Qujing 55, 57; 11th 
Group Army 56-57; 20th 
Group Army 56-57; Motor 
Transport Command (MTC), 
Xiaguan 57, 59 
after Burma Campaign (1945): 

24th Group Army 59-60; Hsueh 

Yueh 60; Field Artillery Training 

Centre (FATC), Kunming 60; 

Ninth War Zone 60-61; New First 

Army 63 
Hong Kong (1945-46): 13th Army 

65; transported to Qinhuangdao 

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) 

— Hong Kong 38, 70-71, 73, 74, 
76, 79, 83-84; Chung Wah Music 
Academy 71, 73, 83; Rainbow 
Chorus 73-74, 77, 83; Nan Fang 
College 83-84, 87 

— Mainland 44, 70-71, 73, 74, 76, 
78,82,90, 146, 149, 151, 170; 
South China Art Ensemble 78, 79 

— New Democratic Youth League 77 

— United Front 44, 70-71, 73, 75, 
135, 144, 148, 152, 160-61, 172 

— United Front Department 81, 149 
Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange 

Society 5, 18, 106, 107 

Chinese immigrants in Canada: Chinese 
Exclusion Act 178-79; early 
immigrants 178-79; gumshan (Gold 
Mountain) 178; Head Tax 178, 181: 
Federation of Chinese Canadians in 
Scarborough (FCCS) 179, 180, 181; 
Chinese Canadians National Council 
(CCNC) 180-81 

Chu Hark Keung 26, 173 

Chung Wah Music Academy, see Chinese 
Communist Party 

Chung Sze-yuen 160, 165 

Civil Aid Services (CAS) 93-94 

Cowperthwaite, John 157 

Cultural Revolution, see China 

Dah Chong Hong 84. 103-4, 113, 167, 
171, 182 

Deng Xiaoping 155, 158, 161, 162, 165, 

183, 184, 185, 186 
Dodwell Motors Ltd. 69, 81, 84, 87, 88, 

89,95,98, 104, 134, 153, 174 
Dunn, Lydia 160, 165 

Executive Council (Exco) 159, 165 

Foreign Affairs Bureau (FAB), China 
50, 51, 53, 55; FAB interpreters, see 
wartime interpreters 

Four Modernizations Programme, 
see China 

Free China 40-42, 48, 50, 75, 136 

Gong Peng 74 

Goodstadt, Leo 163 

Government Hill 101 

Great Leap Forward, see China 

Greenwood, John 164 

Guandi (Guan Yu) 2, 3 

Guang Xu 3, 4 

Guangzhouwan 38-39, 40, 41, 86 

Gui Mingyang 82 

Haddon-Cave, Philip 157 

Hang Seng Bank: Research Department 
104, 105, 115, 130, 158, 161; 
founding (1933) 105-6; 
incorporation (1952) 108; 30th 
anniversary (1962) 109; Chinese 
characteristics 113-15; Hang Seng 
Newsletter 115-16; Hang Seng 
Economic Quarterly 116, 163; bank 
run (1965) 1 18-20; selling equm 
to Hongkong Bank 120; Hang Seng 
Index (.HSU 127-30; Hang Seng 
Consumer Price Index (HSCPI) 
130, 167; BoAi Tan$ 157, 158. L60; 
China Trade Group 161, 163; Hang 
Seng Economic Monthly 163, 176; 
Hang Seng Friendship Association in 
Toronto 176; Hang Seng Perspective 

Hang Seng Yin L06, 109 

Happy Valley Race Course Fire (1918) 17 

Ho, John 174-75 

Index 213 

Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation 168 

Ho Sin Hang: founding Hang Seng 105-6; 
Chairman of Chinese Gold and Silver 
Exchange Society 107; incorporating 
Hang Seng 108; teachings 109-12; 
Hang Seng bank run 120, 121; Hang 
Seng Index 127-28, 129; funeral 168 

Ho Tak Ching 157, 159 

Ho Tim 104, 105, 107, 108, 114, 116, 
121, 127, 160, 167-68, 172, 173 

Hong Kong Stock Exchange 127, 128, 

Hong Xiannu 81-82, 142 

Hongkong and Shanghai Banking 
Corporation (Hongkong Bank) 36, 
108, 117, 119-22, 136, 157, 159, 168 

Huang Daoming (Lao Huang) 135-40, 
144, 148-51 

Hump, the 48 

HwaSheungPo71,73, 74 

Independent Commission Against 

Corruption (ICAC) 155 
interpreters, see wartime interpreters 

Japanese invasion and occupation of 
Hong Kong: Battle of Hong Kong 
31-35, Japanese occupation 35-38; 
Chinese Cooperative Council 36; 
Chinese Representative Council 36; 
Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity 
Sphere 36, 37 

Kan Yuet-keung 158 

Kaukong (Jiujiang) 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 

13-14, 17 
key money 68-69 
King's College: curricula and events 

22-24,25,26,45,66, 153, 177; 

schoolmates 83, 95, 114, 123, 125, 

126, 133, 160, 173, 176 
Korean War 80, 83, 95, 97, 102, 107, 134; 

UN embargo 95, 107, 134 
Ku Lian (Unrequited Love) 169 
KungYulong 152, 155, 173 
Kwan, Cheuk 85, 90, 166, 180, 182, 188 
Kwan Chiu Kong 2 
Kwan Chung Hao Tong 1, 4, 9 

Kwan Hung Kwong 78, 79, 92, 123 
Kwan Lin Chee 11, 40, 41-42, 46, 87, 88, 

Kwan Man Kwong 8, 11, 20, 22, 24, 30, 

38, 39, 41, 66-67, 69, 70, 76-78, 80, 

81, 84-85, 103, 113-14, 171-72, 174, 

181-82, 186 
Kwan Sai Kwong 40, 46, 78, 79, 80, 92, 

140, 141 
Kwan Tsai Tung (Father) 4, 5, 7-8, 10, 

11, 13, 17-18, 20-21, 22, 27-28, 30, 

39-41, 42, 46, 66, 69, 71, 72, 73, 

89-90, 109, 173 
Kwan Tse Kwong 8, 20, 30, 34, 40, 41, 

46, 50-51, 66-67, 69-70, 71-74, 

76-77, 78, 79, 80-83, 84, 123, 134, 

139, 140, 141-43, 144, 181, 182, 

183-86, 187 
Kwan Wai Chow 4-13, 17-18, 22, 38, 39, 

40, 67, 79, 85, 91, 92, 109, 126, 173 
Kwan Yik Po 3, 10 
Kwan Yuan Kwong 8, 30, 66-67, 69-70, 

72, 73-74, 76-78, 79-80, 83, 84, 123, 

134, 138, 139-41, 144, 182, 183, 

185-86, 187 

Lam Bing Yim 106, 108 
Ledo Road, Burma 49, 59 
Lee Ming Chak (Richard Charles) 159 
Lee Quo Wei (Q.W): interview with 101, 
103-4; managing Hang Seng Bank 
104, 105, 109, 113, 114-15, 120, 127, 
128, 130, 156-57, 167-68; joining 
Hang Seng Bank 107; in Legco 
and Exco 158-60, 165; developing 
relations with China 160, 161, 163; 
Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation 168 
Lee Tuan Yau (Poh Poh) 7, 9, 15, 17, 18, 

20, 22, 39, 66 
Legislative Council (Legco) 109, 126, 

158-59, 165 
Lend-Lease Act, US 47, 18, 55 
Leung Chik Wai 1 04, 1 06, 1 08, 1 1 4, 1 2 1 , 

Leung Kau Kui 84, 113, 114, 167-68, 173 
Leung Kuk Kum (Grandmother) 8-1 1 
Leung Nai Hei 39, 46, 72, 73, 78, 83 
linked exchange rate system 164 

214 Index 

Ma Kam 83 

Ma Lin 83 

Ma Shizeng 81-82 

Ma Sicong 71 

MacLehose, Murray 130, 155, 158, 159 

Man Kwok Lau 114-15, 116, 157, 159, 

163, 164, 172, 176 
Mao Zedong 70, 74, 113, 122, 124, 141, 

145, 146, 147, 150, 151, 154, 183, 

May Refugee Tide (1962) 122 
MBE investiture 165-67 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, see China 
Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations 

and Trade, see China 


— government (Republic of China): 
background 20, 21; wartime 24, 
38, 41, 43-44, 47, 50, 59, 60, 70, 
72, 73, 76, 105, 106, 136; civil 
war 62-63, 107; and Hong Kong 
65, 75, 83; in Taiwan 78, 93 

— party (Kuomintang) 20, 81, 139 
Nan Fang College, see Chinese 

Communist Party 
New Democratic Youth League, see 

Chinese Communist Party 
Nu Jiang (Salween River) 56, 57, 58 

Patten, Chris 163, 182 

"Ping Pong Diplomacy": with US 134; 

Asia-Africa-Latin America Ping Pong 

Tournament 144, 148 

Qiao Guanhua 74, 79, 150-51 

Rainbow Chorus, see Chinese Communist 

riots in Hong Kong: in 1956, 94, 98: in 

1966, 124; in 1967, 98, 124-26 
Roosevelt. Franklin D. 47, 97 

Salween River, see Nu Jiang 
Sam Chi Van 123, 125 
Seventh Fleet, US 96, 97 
ShengTsunLin 106, 113 
shoe money 69 

Sino-British relations: political relations 
93, 136; negotiations over Hong 
Kong 163-65, 167, 169, 171; Joint 
Declaration 179 

South China Art Ensemble, see Chinese 
Communist Party 

Southern Song dynasty 2-3 

Statistics Advisor)- Board (SAB) 130-31, 
163, 166 

Stilwell, Joseph 

— China-Burma-India Theatre of 
War, see Chinese Army (1942-46) 

— training and reorganization of 
Chinese Army: X-Force, see 
Chinese Army (1942-46); Y- 
Force, see Chinese Army (1942- 
46); Z-Force 49, 59 

— recall 59 

Sun Yat-sen: background and events 9, 
20, 21, 22, 24, 38, 52, 188; sayings 
and writings 22, 26, 52, 145, 160, 170 

Sung Wong Toi 3 

Tarn Ting Kwong (Tan Chi Yuan) 133-34, 

135, 151, 160, 173 
Tarn Kon 134, 160 
Tang Chi Ngong (Gung Gung) 6-7, 

13-17, 19,39,92, 109, 173 
Tang Dor Fuk Tong 13 
TangShiu Chun (Rose) 15, 17, 18-19, 


82, 83, 84-85, 91, 92, 134, 166, 174, 

181, 186 
Tang Shiu Kee (Po Chun) 15, 16 
Tang Shiu Kwan (Chi Kin) 15. 16, 17, 22 
Tang Shiu Kin 15, 16-17, 27-28, 36. 84, 

92, 109 
Tang Shiu King (Mother) 7-11, 15, 18, 

22, 41, 46, 66, 67. 72, 77-78, 81. 

82,84-85,91. 134. 142. 135. 137. 

145-46. 174, 181 
Tang Shiu Woon 15, 16, 17 
Tang Wensheng (Nancy) 150 
Three-Anti and Five-Anti Campaigns 

Hantsu Weijing 134, 135 
Trench. David 158, 159 

Index 215 

United Front, see Chinese Communist 

Wang Kuang 160 

wartime interpreters: War Area 

Service Corps (WASC) 50, 51, 53; 
recruitment 50-51; training 51-53; 
assignment 53; living conditions and 
strike 53-54; Motor School (Motor 
Transport Training Centre), Qujing 
55, 57; Motor Transport Command 
(MTC), Xiaguan 57, 59; Field 
Artillery Training Centre (FATC), 
Kunming 60; demobilization and 
testimonial 61-62 

water rationing in Hong Kong (1963) 

Wong, Amy 11,84,85,90, 172, 181, 182 

Wong Hing Kwong 11, 85-86, 92, 

Wong, Josephine 86-87, 88 

Wong, Joseph 180, 188 

Wong Kwong Sin Tong 86 
Wong Man Fai 127 
Wong Man Fong 160-61 
Wong Man Hung 86, 127 
Wong Man Shun 86 
Wong Wai Sheung 1 1, 85, 86 

Xinhua News Agency, see China 
Xujiatun 160 

yinhao: background 4-6; Hung Tak 4, 6; 
Wing Tak and Wing Tai 4-6, 12, 13, 
17, 18; Shui Kut 6; Tai Yau 6 ; Tang 
Tin Fuk 6-7, 13, 15, 16, 27-28, 36, 
104, 109-10; Shiu Yuan 17-18; Hang 
Seng, see Hang Seng Yin Hao 

Youde, Edward 166-67 

Yunnan-Burma Highway, see Burma Road 

Zhang Hanzhi 150, 151 
ZhouEnlai 142, 148, 150, 151 

Stanley S.K. Kwan was born in Hong Kong 
in 1925 into a traditional Chinese banking 
family. He attended King's College until the 
fall of Hong Kong in 1 941 and joined the 
Chinese army as an interpreter for US forces 
during the war. From 1962 until he retired in 
1984, he headed the Research Department 
in Hang Seng Bank. He launched the 
Hang Seng Index in 1969, served on the 
government's Statistics Advisory Board 
during 1976-84 and was awarded the MBE 
in 1 985. He now lives in Toronto, Canada. 

Nicole Kwan is the niece of Stanley Kwan. 
She has a BA degree from Smith College and 
MAs from Yale University and the University 
of Hong Kong. She worked in international 
banking for over twenty years while based in 
Hong Kong. 

Cover image: Aries Cheung 
Author photo: H. Frampton 

Royal Asiatic Society Ho 

Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Studies Series is designed to make widely available 
important contributions on the local history, culture and society of Hong Kong and the 
surrounding region. Generous support by the Sir Lindsay and Lady May Ride Memorial Fund 
makes it possible to publish high-quality works that will be of lasting appeal and value to all, 
both scholars and informed general readers, who share a deeper interest in and enthusiasm 
for the area. 

The Dragon and the Crown is a fascinating account of the twentieth-century history 
of Hong Kong. Stanley Kwan is the master of the telling detail as he recounts the saga 
of his extended family, torn between capitalist, colonialist Hong Kong and the Chinese 
Communist revolution. Kwan's own odyssey is gripping as a survivor of the Japanese attack 
on Hong Kong, wartime interpreter in mainland China for US troops, auto dealer, banker, 
creator of the influential Hang Seng Index and, ultimately, target of Communist China's 
velvet-gloved attempt to recruit sympathizers among Hong Kong's rich and famous. 

Jan Wong, author of Red China Blues and Beijing Confidential 

This book makes an important contribution to Hong Kong's business history and provides 
an insider's account of the often uncomfortable transformation of the Hang Seng Bank 
from an old-fashioned currency and gold dealer into an outstanding financial institution. 
The author is particularly impressive in his analysis of the contrasts between Chinese and 
Western business cultures/Stanley Kwan also describes Hong Kong's special political strains, 
describing in detail the way in which business leaders assiduously wooed their British ■ 
rulers while carefully cultivating mainland officials. The Dragon and the Crown offers a 
moving account of the impact on the author and his extended family of China's political and 
economic turbulence in the last century, which deserves to be widely read. 

Leo Goodstadt, author of Uneasy Partners and Profits, Politics and Panics 

Our lives today seem dull compared to those who lived through the war, and not only 
witnessed but experienced the tussle between the Nationalists and Communists in 
the borrowed place of British colonial Hong Kong. Political ideology has always been a 
divider even among family members. Old heartaches come alive through the retelling 
of the personal stories in this book to remind us of lost hope and the need to soldier on 

Christine Loh, CEO of Civic Exchange 

Hong Kong history, 
business history 

# :# * ^ an m. f± ' 

Hong Kong University Press